For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. (Isaiah 53:2-3)
The Totem Of Jesus Christ
H. G. Wells wrote, “Jesus was a penniless teacher who wandered about the dusty sun-bit country of Judea, living upon casual gifts of food; yet he is always represented clean, combed, and sleek, in spotless raiment, erect, and with something motionless about him as though he was gliding through the air. This alone has made him unreal and incredible to many people who cannot distinguish the core of the story from the ornamental and unwise additions of the unintelligently devout.” (The Outline of History, Vol. 1; 1920) The Jesus of the New Testament is seldom understood by modern man. They have recreated the Son of God as their own totem to represent what they find value in themselves rather than the picture of holy writ. Whether in Renaissance paintings, sculptors by a great artist or modern films, Jesus is portrayed as a beautiful, graceful and striking image that draws men solely upon His kind smile and warm touch. He is easily picked out of a crowd and men adore Him with longing eyes of love and devotion. Nothing is further from the truth as to the real Jesus of scripture. There are no images of the man from Nazareth because when He lived His life was insignificant to the world for most of His earthly life. Mary, His mother, was the only one certain of His identity and for thirty years she never revealed it to others. He did not come into the public view until the age of thirty-three and then His popularity waned after a few years and they killed Him as a common criminal. He would not have been the subject of any portrait much less anyone taking notice of His features or characteristics. Many of the early disciples who knew Him personally never spoke of any importance to what their Lord looked like and no drawings or paintings are preserved suggesting any likeness of Jesus. This, of course, will leave a vacuum in the mind of man to try and recreate what they believe Jesus to look like. It is in this arena man shows the failure of human wisdom and the glorification of the mind of God.
The totem of Jesus is not attempting to literally describe the physical appearance of the Christ but the perceptions of who the Jesus of the New Testament will be in the lives of the individual. Jesus is never measured by what made Him distinct and stand out from others. His teaching is what made Him be the man of His time to change the hearts and minds of the people. He was not significant because He stood out in a crowd and had a soft glow about His face. Jesus was a man who challenged the teachings of the Jewish leaders, minds of the religious zealots and hearts of the common man. He looked so much like a common man it offended the Jewish elite to consider such an unimportant person from the backwater town of Nazareth would be worthy to listen to, but they could not resist His teaching. Isaiah hints to the physical appearance of the coming Christ as one that is indistinguishable from others. The Father never desired to reveal the face of Jesus to the world but the teaching of His Son. Creating an image of Christ can only come from the scriptures without the prejudice of human wisdom trying to recreate the Son of God in the image of man. It is easy to paint Jesus in a manner that is not found in scripture. Many people have ideas and thoughts about the Son of God that come from the mythology of human wisdom rather than the truth of scripture. Salvation will only come through the knowledge of what Jesus brought from the Father in the revealed word of the gospel. Hearts that are changed by the gospel of Christ is the Jesus of scripture.
There are many churches today because each group has its own totem of Jesus. One group will proclaim their allegiance to Christ while another group offers their interpretation of the Christ and both portraits of Jesus are diametrically opposed to one another. Men say that all churches are united together as followers of Jesus but their totems are different. How can the image of the Son of God reflect a different picture of Jesus to each religious group and speak the same thing with the same authority? There can be no totems of Jesus but only the image of the Firstborn Son of God as revealed in scripture by the word of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said of Himself He was the way, the truth, and the life and there could be no other. Anything created by man is a forgery of the original. Sadly many people are content to recreate Jesus in their own image so they can live without the guilt of accountability to the Father. The purpose of creating personal totems is to justify beliefs. When the end of the world comes and all things will be destroyed, the totems of Jesus will be burned up and the only image of the Christ remaining will be that which is painted on the pages of holy writ. Examine the Jesus of scripture and let His image of grace, love, power, and righteousness be the picture you see of the Son of God.