Winsome Jesus

Can you generally tell which one is Jesus is in a picture book for children, or in a portrait on someone’s wall?

Of course you can.  As plain as everyone else may look, Jesus always looks better.  His face is fuller, his eyes more radiant…

There’s typically a kind of beauty or majesty that attracts us to him, isn’t there?  Something about his appearance that makes us desire him…

You can tell just by looking at him that this one is the Son of God, can’t you?

I am concerned about what we may be teaching our children through the influence of these pictures of Jesus.  Basically, we’re teaching them the opposite of what the Holy Spirit says. 

I have never seen a picture of Jesus that is faithful to the Scriptures:

He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
–Isaiah 53:2

Do we understand what the Holy Spirit is telling us?  Jesus was ugly.  He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him.

Yet when he spoke, it was the very words of God.  And everything he did was good and right.

I am afraid that by constantly exposing our children to pictures of a winsome Jesus, we are training their minds to look at the outward appearance — training them to be vulnerable to handsome frauds like King Saul.

Fuzzy Jesus

The pictures of Jesus are sometimes so sentimentalized that Jesus is fuzzy-looking.  Here’s fuzzy Jesus and his fuzzy disciples toddling out to a little boat in a little lake…

I’ve never seen a fuzzy Jesus say anything full of that foreign kind of love called agape that we need in our hearts, like “I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all likewise perish!” or “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!”

Well, you say, isn’t that a bit much to expect for children’s books?

Ok, so maybe we teach the fuzzy side of Jesus when they’re little and add the “hard” side later.

How did that work for us?

In our hearts don’t we even now think of that fuzzy Jesus?  When we read his woes and his unless you repents and his you are children of your father the devils, don’t we even in our adulthood knit our brows and say, “That’s not the fuzzy Jesus I know” ?

We do.  I do.

(This doesn’t even address the question of the second commandment, which also weighs on me regarding these pictures of Jesus.)

Brothers and sisters, I don’t think we’re serving our children by feeding them these false pictures of our Lord.

And yet… these picture Bibles seem so helpful.  What’s important?

Discussions and decisions need to happen.

This entry was posted in images of Jesus, second commandment. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Winsome Jesus

  1. Mom says:

    Your comment on “fuzzy Jesus” was put to use yesterday in a conversation with a friend that is doing a lot of thinking about “Religion”. It is difficult for him to imagine that a loving God would send people to Hell. We shared with him that many people are used to the warm and fuzzy concept of Jesus, but forget that there is also the truth of God’s wrath. God gave me another concept this week that was timely, to share with our friend. Just as Satan convinced Eve how unreasonable it would be for God to prohibit one fruit of the Garden, Satan convinces people today of how unreasonable it would be for God to send someone to Hell.
    Satan is very much at work, but God is greater! We are praying that our friend will see that Jesus is the Answer. He said he sees Jesus in us, and wants to know more.

  2. Hensel says:

    There is no need for pictures of Jesus, fuzzy or otherwise. We do not live in an illiterate society where sermons are given in Latin from the Vulgate and the picture windows are more than decorations. If we need pictures to help tell a story to those who have need of pictures, such as a child, then let the picture be reflective of the audience; let the picture bible used in the nursery be styled as all other nursery books written for toddlers. But should we cast off meat for milk? Rather let us do away with childish things when we stop being childish, including the need for pictures to tell a story. Let us learn to accept and learn God’s Word as it was given. Yes, in written form, and yes in higher reading level translations that permit a more literal translation and take fewer liberties trying to interpret the Word for us. But let us also learn Greek (not an easy task, believe me) so that we may understand it as it was meant to be understand.

    If we permit pictures be be the only thing we read then we are left wholly to the devices of the artist. Take for instance a popular picture: http://whyyoumadson.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/large_blackjesus.jpg
    I’ll let you use your own discernment.

    This spills over into a larger problem of illiteracy but continual use of pictures past a certain age also promotes a dependence on pictures that grows from stills alongside text to video and movies. I say let your kids have milk when they are young and need it. Once they are older move them to meat. Let them have milk if that’s what they truly desire so long as they gain their sustenance from the meat and the milk is like a dessert.

  3. danielmeyer says:

    John,
    Thanks for stopping by!

    >>> There is no need for pictures of Jesus

    >>> If we need pictures to help tell a story to those who have need of pictures, such as a child, then let the picture be reflective of the audience; let the picture bible used in the nursery be styled as all other nursery books written for toddlers.

    >>> I say let your kids have milk when they are young and need it.

    When you say “let the picture bible be used”, do you mean “including its pictures of Jesus”? or “in spite of its pictures of Jesus”? or “avoiding its pictures of Jesus”? Every picture “bible” has such pictures these days, and my contention is that pictures of Jesus are not milk at all, they are poison. They teach us lies about Jesus.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s