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What does your Jesus look like?

The small-town Presbyterian church I grew up in didn’t have any images of Jesus anywhere in the building and Jesus was rarely the subject of our hymns. All those “Jesus as friend” hymns belonged to the Baptists across town and weren’t our standard fare. I was raised with an emphasis on Matthew 25 that the face of Jesus is the face of your neighbor in need. Over the years, as I’ve buried over 250 people to HIV/AIDS and labored in inner city vineyards, I’ve seen Jesus in the faces of many, many people and in many places.

On my desk, I have a sculpture made by my childhood pastor, Rev. John Otey, now deceased, that depicts Matthew 25. This is a “real” image of Jesus for me because it depicts my understanding of who Jesus is in relationship to us.

On the web, I found a wonderful website of images of Jesus through history and I’m fascinated by the way that the images mirror any good history of western art. Each image reflects the style of painting prevalent in the period and in some ways, perhaps, the Christology. Among these images, I find myself more attracted to the “earthier” images that show Jesus as a poor man, a bit unkempt, and less fancy. Unfortunately, when you click on the images, you don’t get a lot of information about artists or origins, though a few do have notes.

I’m also fascinated by all the “sightings” of Jesus and Mary in various places and the veneration they receive. This one comes from my home state of Texas and is entitled, “Jesus on a moth”. The cool part is that this is a very abstract Jesus image, in my opinion, but still perhaps accurate because the Divine can be seen throughout the creation.

Ultimately, I believe all images of Jesus can only be seem “through a glass dimly” and yet each day, we encounter the Christ everywhere.

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