Has the image of Jesus deteriorated through the centuries?
“Ecce Homo” (“Behold the Man”) was a prized Spanish fresco — for over a century – the pride of the Sanctuary of Mercy Church in Borja, near Zaragoza.
The condition of the painting had been deteriorating over time.
Can The Man Be Saved?
A concerned, 80 year-old congregant was upset over its worsening condition. She decided to take matters into her own hands and attempted to restore the painting.
What was left looks like a child’s finger painting.
Art historians are now discussing if the painting can be saved.
The Image of Jesus
The story reminds me of well-intentioned academics who alter the image of Jesus in an attempt to fit a value system they feel will help people see Jesus clearer. They felt “the image of Jesus” – our theological understanding of Jesus – was deteriorating over time.
The Jesus Seminar is one such group. It is comprised of approximately 150 scholars and laymen. It was founded in 1985 by Robert Funk.
Who is Jesus
The Jesus Seminar’s reconstruction of the historical Jesus portrays him as an itinerant Hellenistic Jewish sage and faith healer. According to the Seminar, Jesus was a mortal man born of two human parents, who did not perform miracles nor die as a substitute for sinners nor rise bodily from the dead.
The resultant “Jesus” of the Seminar looks like nothing more than “a child’s finger painting.”
Jesus is stripped of His divinity and role as Emmanuel, God with us.
The fallacy of the Jesus Seminar is to assume that Jesus is merely an historical figure who can be studied and categorized. It is assumed that He is not transcendent deity.
6 Ways The Image of Jesus Can be Preserved
1. Read the New Testament for yourself. Get a readable version of the New Testament. “The Message” is a translation in modern English and reads like a novel. The NIV is a sound translation that is also in modern English.
2. Read one Gospel at a time. (Gospel means “Good News.”) Start with the Gospel of Mark. Mark’s account is the shortest gospel having only 16 chapters. You can read through the whole book in just over an hour.
Read the whole Gospel in one sitting. Why? Because from conception to the resurrection you get an instant picture of Jesus.
3. Read Matthew, Luke and John together. You could read all three gospels in three days or in one long night. You will discover your reading seems repetitious, as some stories are repeated through 3 or 4 of the Gospels. Why is that? Matthew and John write as men who lived with Jesus. Mark records and reflects the experience and teachings of the disciple Peter. Luke, who never met Jesus, records the teachings and experiences of the apostle Paul.
4. Record your thoughts about Jesus. What do you learn about Him as you read? Record any differences you see from one Gospel to another. The four gospels are four witnesses, each seeing Jesus through their personal experience and perspective.
5. As you read, take what you read at face value. Pray. Ask the Holy Spirit to make Jesus real to you.
6. The New Testament has an agenda: to present the reality of Jesus – Saviour, Lord, Healer and King. “These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Song of God and that by believing you will have life through his name.” John 20:31
APPLICATION: What is one aspect of Jesus that stands out most you you? Please leave a comment below.
I write to inspire people to be real, grow an authentic faith in Jesus, enjoy healthy relationships and discover their life purpose. If this material is helpful to you, please follow me.
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