Have You Seen This Christmas Portrait?

What picture of Jesus is hanging in your gallery?

In The Jesus I Never Knew, Philip Yancey helps correct faulty pictures of Jesus that we hold. The Cuban government, says Yancey, once distributed a painting of Jesus with a carbine slung over his shoulder. Norm Evans, ex-football player for the Miami Dolphins, pictured Jesus as “a six-foot-five inch 260-pound defensive tackle who would always make the big plays.” Fritz Peterson, former New York Yankee, imagined Jesus wearing a baseball uniform, sliding hard into second base to break up the double play. Yancey himself used to picture Jesus as a Star Trek Vulcan: calm, cool, collected as he strode robot-like among excitable human beings.

Who has the correct picture? None of them, and all of them!  We know Jesus didn’t carry a rifle, throw a football, hit a baseball, or take a trip on the USS Enterprise. For that matter he never worked as an attorney, collected garbage, married, or served Uncle Sam. To picture him in such ways is to frame a poor reproduction.

What each of these painters did, however, is recognize a significant truth: Jesus entered our world. He took on flesh and blood; he became like us. Matthew sums it up this way:

All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet: “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’
— Matthew 1:22-23 NLT

In order for God to be with us, God had to become like us.

  • Have you ever felt hunger pains? So has Jesus!
  • Have you been tired and worn out?  So has Jesus!
  • Have you been in anguish? So has Jesus!
  • Have you ever been angry? So has Jesus!
  • Have you ever grieved a loss? So has Jesus!
  • Have you ever had a sleepless night? So has Jesus!
  • Have you ever wrestled with temptation? So has Jesus!

Jesus is "God with skin on." As God, he is holy and sovereign, totally separate from us. In his humanity, however, he is just like you. The writer of the letter to the Hebrews encourages us with these words:

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
— Hebrews 4:15 ESV

Christmas is a wonderful time to hang a fresh portrait of Jesus –- the "Mighty God" who will save us, but also a Savior who can sympathize with us because he became like us. If he handled every facet of life without sin -- and he did -- then you can trust him to help you in your time of need.

What challenge are you facing today? He understands it. So draw near to him. Share it with him. Find his grace for your time of need.

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
— Hebrews 4:16 ESV