February 24, 2016 by Nicole
I tried to imagine once that if you had to pick Jesus out of a police photo line up, what photos the cops would show you. I imagine that it would look something like this:
It seems like there are so many of the kindly, “Saintly” Jesus, the quietly suffering martyr Jesus, and the “Heavenly Son of God” Jesus. Lots of images of Him seem pretty familiar, and yet at the same time, in those images, He seems very unlike us–kind of stiff and distant. All of those pictures, nice as they are, really never seem to embody the Jesus that experienced what it what like to be a human being, which ultimately make Him seem like the guy the Bible says can mediate for us because He’s “been there” and he understands us.
In the course of writing this post, I came across lots of pictures that make Jesus feel a lot “closer,” like pictures of him smiling, laughing, carrying sheep, hugging and comforting people who are burdened and weary, and one of my favorites, the picture of Him being comforted and strengthened by an angel in Gethsemane right before he willingly underwent His Passion:
The painting below is the work of child prodigy Akiane Kramarik, and has gained fame as a result of the book Heaven is for Real, detailing the near death experience of four year old Colton Burpo. (You can see more of her art here.) In the weeks and months following Colton’s experience, his father (who is a pastor, incidentally) is curious to know what Jesus looks like, and so he and Colton looked at picture after picture of Jesus, trying to find a likeness close to whom his son met. As soon as Colton saw Akiane’s work, he was adamant that this what what God’s Son looked like:
Now, I am no art critic, but this takes the cake for the most beautiful, intense, and striking depiction I have ever seen. If you ever found yourself wondering about whom you’re praying to and who is up there listening to and loving you, this man in this painting seems to connect with many people on a very deep level, and it’s not hard to understand why. Every time I look at this Jesus, I have to remind myself that it’s only a picture; in his eyes I see everything I imagine I would see if I were to run into him on the street: his divine power and authority, his profound love for all of humanity juxtaposed with a deeply intimate and personal knowledge of me. It’s simultaneously humbling and empowering.