Pictures of Jesus - Are They Biblical?
Where did all the pictures of Jesus go from your website?
If you've been coming to my website for a while, you've probably seen my pictures of Jesus - baby Jesus and the pictures of the risen Jesus, or Jesus with his disciples. When creating the lessons for the children at first I was sketching pictures of Jesus to go with a few of the Bible stories, since my lessons are very visual. I began studying this subject of using pictures of Jesus mainly because many of the pictures of Jesus that I've seen myself bothered me....for many reasons. I just don't like them. Still etched in my memory is the picture of Jesus my family had up on the wall - you know, the long-haired feminine-looking Jesus. I didn't like that picture as a child and still don't. Why don't I like pictures of Jesus? Because none them even come close to being a good representation of Jesus, mine included. Why? Because he's God. We're only created beings. I'll try to further explain this, and my other reasons below. (For the scriptures I included, I added bold for emphasis. For others I just give the reference).
Somewhere along the way in my Christian growth, I was convinced that I should no longer made pictures of Jesus. But then in my complacency and pride, I ignored the Holy Spirit's “still small voice” and instead listened to the voices of the world and compromised. I started to make pictures of Jesus again to add to the lessons. I now regret that I did, and apologize for creating the pictures and putting them on the website. I was wrong. I wasn't listening to the Holy Spirit. I have repented of my sin, and created new substitute lessons without the pictures of Jesus. I ask for your forgiveness and to consider using the updated lessons that contain no pictures of Jesus. Please prayerfully consider the scriptures below when considering using the old lessons with the pictures of Jesus that you may have downloaded, or any other pictures of Jesus, movies, videos, etc. with images of Jesus. I also apologize to the children who viewed the pictures or made the crafts, as well, and pray that the Lord gives you a sincere faith.
1. Images of Jesus are false images. They are lies. They cannot portray the divine nature of Jesus. Thus, they not only portray him as way less than he is, but also take away from his divine glory.
Romans 1:21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. 24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. 26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. 28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. NIV
John 4: 21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” NIV
Matthew 17: 1-2 [The Transfiguration]
Revelation 1:12-16 [Jesus' appearance in heaven]
2. The second commandment forbids worshipping false gods.
My pictures are used in worship, in a way. They're used in home schools or Sunday school to teach children about God and the Bible. While my intention when creating the pictures was not for the children to worship it, after hearing one of my lessons, the children would likely have my picture Jesus in their mind when they pray or worship, which is a very flawed and a false representation of Jesus. Worshiping images and using images in worship are two different things. But when the children using the lessons think of Jesus to worship him and when they pray, they could think of the images of Jesus that were recently shown to them during the lesson. So, wouldn't that be worshipping a false image in their hearts?
Exodus 20:4 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. NIV
As I understand the passages in Exodus and Deuteronomy, they prohibit the making and worshiping of false gods. While we know the commandment does not mean not to make images of any kind because God himself told those making the temple to carve out angels, pomegranates, etc, (Ex 25:31; Jer 52:20; Ex 28:33; Ex 25:18; Ex 26:1,31; 1 Kings 6:32,36).
I think the commandment is against making an image to worship, an idol. How does God respond to images in Scripture? For instance, we can see God's anger at the Israelites' use of the golden calf in Exodus 32. Regardless of whether the image represented God, or not, the people then worshipped the image. (v. 8). Isn't any image we make of Jesus a false picture, therefore it represents a false god?
(Deuteronomy 11:16; Deuteronomy 12:30; Psalm 97:7).
The second commandment not to make graven images is linked by the second part-----for the purpose of worshipping (isn't all of life worship in a spiritual sense?) Do I really want kids thinking of my pictures when they think of Jesus? The answer is no, I don't.
Deut. 4:23 Be careful not to forget the covenant of the Lord your God that he made with you; do not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything the Lord your God has forbidden. 24 For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God. 25 After you have had children and grandchildren and have lived in the land a long time—if you then become corrupt and make any kind of idol, doing evil in the eyes of the Lord your God and arousing his anger, 26 I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you this day that you will quickly perish from the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess. You will not live there long but will certainly be destroyed. 27 The Lord will scatter you among the peoples, and only a few of you will survive among the nations to which the Lord will drive you. 28 There you will worship man-made gods of wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or eat or smell. 29 But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. 30 When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in later days you will return to the Lord your God and obey him. 31 For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your ancestors, which he confirmed to them by oath. NIV
As for the argument that “We are the image of God, so its ok to make images of people as well as Jesus”. My response is that we were made in the 'likeness of God', sort of resembling God in some ways...we are not images of God. Only Jesus is -- the express image of God.
Hebrews 1:3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. NIV
Colossians 1:15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. NIV
3. The pictures of Jesus are not honoring to God.
Baby Jesus has been represented as a vegetable (books) or a craft stick with eyes (crafts). Those images have always been somewhat offensive to me, so I can only think that my pictures of Jesus, (even after hours of effort -- which I never ended up liking anyway) are still offensive to God; for I cannot come anywhere close to getting a good representation of Jesus, or of God, because:
1. I am a mere created person who is very flawed (in my actions, in my mind, in my abilities, etc...)
2. He's God whose deity can never be represented, only his humanity (and even then its a false image).
Out of respect for God, we don't want to portray him as other gods are portrayed, but hold him in higher esteem.
Acts 17:29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.” NIV
Jeremiah 10:12 But God made the earth by his power; he founded the world by his wisdom and stretched out the heavens by his understanding. 13 When he thunders, the waters in the heavens roar; he makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth. He sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses.
14 Everyone is senseless and without knowledge; every goldsmith is shamed by his idols. The images he makes are a fraud; they have no breath in them. 15 They are worthless, the objects of mockery; when their judgment comes, they will perish. 16 He who is the Portion of Jacob is not like these, for he is the Maker of all things, including Israel, the people of his inheritance — the Lord Almighty is his name. NIV
1 Corinthians 10:31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32 Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— 33 even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. NIV
4. We're not to compare Jesus to anything or anyone. Jesus is incomparable, so why would we try to bring him down to our level by making an image of him.
Isaiah 40:12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance? 13 Who can fathom the Spirit of the Lord, or instruct the Lord as his counselor? 14 Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge, or showed him the path of understanding? 15 Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust. 16 Lebanon is not sufficient for altar fires, nor its animals enough for burnt offerings. 17 Before him all the nations are as nothing; they are regarded by him as worthless and less than nothing. 18 With whom, then, will you compare God? To what image will you liken him? 19 As for an idol, a metalworker casts it, and a goldsmith overlays it with gold and fashions silver chains for it. 20 A person too poor to present such an offering selects wood that will not rot; they look for a skilled worker to set up an idol that will not topple. 21 Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded? 22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in. 23 He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing. 24 No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown, no sooner do they take root in the ground, than he blows on them and they wither, and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff. 25 “To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One. 26 Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing. 27 Why do you complain, Jacob? Why do you say, Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God”? 28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. NIV
5. God never instructed anyone to make an image of him.
If God wanted an image of himself, wouldn't he have told someone to make one for the temple? But God never did instruct anyone to do that.
In Scripture we find verbal descriptions of certain aspects of God's appearance, but I believe these are just similes, and are not intended for us to make mental images of him. They describe certain personality traits, not God's physical appearance himself. God is Spirit, not in physical form. (Ex. 13:21; Dan. 7:9).
To sum it, I've taken down the pictures I created of Jesus because I now realize that creating them and or using them violates the second commandment, teaches a lie of how our Messiah looked, corrupts the worship of God in the minds of the children viewing the pictures of Jesus, and is not honoring to Jesus. I ask for your forgiveness and to consider using the updated lessons that contain no pictures of Jesus.
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