I have always been fascinated by how Christians perceive Jesus and love to chat to people from different theological and cultural backgrounds to explore this. I also love to collect images of Jesus from other cultures and have included some of my favourites in this post.
It is interesting to me that early Christians (and the Celtic Christians we so much admire) saw Jesus as a companion and a brother. It was only after the emperor Constantine became a Christian that the view of Christ shifted to more of an emperor figure. No surprisingly as Christendom took hold and wars became justified as holy wars we also started to see images of Christ as a warrior king.
The more I reflect on who Christ is the more uncomfortable I am with these images of Christ. In the gospels he is more likely to touch lepers and talk to tax collectors than he is to embrace the rich and the powerful. He is more likely to be seen in the face of a repentant beggar than in the face of a self righteous Pharisee.
My own view of Jesus continues to change. I now see him in the faces of the homeless and the mentally ill. I recognize his love in the compassion of firefighters and ambulance drivers. I experience his heart ache in the grief of those who have lost children and friends to racial violence and war. Jesus is all around us. He stands at so many doors in our hearts that are closed to him and asks us to open and recognize who he is.
Here is a poem I wrote a couple of years ago that reflects on some of my thoughts about who Jesus is.
Our God with a Human Face
In Christ Jesus God’s love is revealed
Our God with a human face divinity concealed
Even the simplest act God’s spirit divine
Ennobled and sanctified like water into wine.
Born in stable, raised as a refugee
Compassion and caring in his actions we see
Friend of the outcast the broken the poor
In the faces of others god’s image he saw
The face of the father providing a home
The prodigal son who has chosen to roam
The love of a mother embracing her child
To these faces of God we are all reconciled
But a beggar who is hungry and needs to be fed
A refugee running from a war she has fled
All who are tortured, in suffering and pain,
The image of God in their faces remain.
Sharing the burdens of those who are poor
God’s image in others we seek to restore
Planting our mustard seeds, watching them grow
A kingdom that’s coming glimpsed now as we sow
Preaching the good news, proclaiming God’s peace
Healing the broken, bringing captives release
Enabling each person as God wants them to be
The image of God in their faces we see.
You might also like to watch this short video I put together several years ago when I was reflecting on this. I know the quality is not very good but I still think it gives us some good thoughts to reflect on.
So what type of people and what situations most represent Jesus for you? I would love to hear your response.