lgtbaner.gif (15970 bytes)

Previous Questions and Answers

Should we use images or pictures of Jesus?

q.gif (1639 bytes)    Should we use pictures of Jesus in Sunday School material, or hang pictures of Jesus on the wall?  Is it right to use an image of the baby Jesus in a nativity scene?


a.gif (1659 bytes)   Exodus 20:1-6 says, "And God spake all these words, saying, I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee ANY GRAVEN IMAGE, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments." If this passage forbids making an image or statue of Jesus, then it certainly also forbids making any picture of Him. "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, OR ANY LIKENESS..."

We usually only think of one part of the definition of the word image — “a reproduction or imitation of the form of a person or thing; especially, an imitation IN SOLID FORM, STATUE” (Merriam-Webster’s 11th Collegiate Dictionary). But there is more to the definition — "a LIKENESS OF AN OBJECT produced on a photographic material; a tangible or VISIBLE REPRESENTATION; a vivid or GRAPHIC REPRESENTATION.” So the word image actually covers images, pictures, drawings, inscriptions, etc. That is why the Bible clearly said, "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing..."

Pictures of Jesus have been a thorn in the side of any fundamental, Bible-preaching church, because 99.9% of the time they picture Jesus with long hair. JESUS DID NOT HAVE LONG HAIR. I Corinthians 11:14, 15 says, "Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, IF A MAN HAVE LONG HAIR, IT IS A SHAME UNTO HIM? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering." Every time there is a picture of Jesus with long hair, it is trying to bring shame to His precious name. The Bible is clear, it is a SHAME FOR A MAN TO HAVE LONG HAIR.

Some people get confused in thinking that Jesus was a Nazarite, instead of a Nazarene. Jesus was a Nazarene, but He was not a Nazarite. What is the difference? A Nazarene is a person who lived in the city of Nazareth. Matthew 2:23 tells us this is what Jesus was: "And he came and DWELT IN A CITY CALLED NAZARETH: that it might be FULFILLED which was spoken by the prophets, HE SHALL BE CALLED A NAZARENE." On the other hand, a Nazarite was a person who took upon himself or herself the vow of a Nazarite (which meant that he or she did not cut his/her hair until the days of the vow were over). Numbers 6:1-5 says, "And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When EITHER MAN OR WOMAN shall separate themselves to vow a vow of a Nazarite, to separate themselves unto the LORD: He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried. All the days of his separation shall he eat nothing that is made of the vine tree, from the kernels even to the husk. ALL THE DAYS OF THE VOW OF HIS SEPARATION THERE SHALL NO RAZOR COME UPON HIS HEAD: UNTIL THE DAYS BE FULFILLED, in the which he separateth himself unto the LORD, he shall be holy, and shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow."

The movie, The Passion of Christ brought out the danger of anyone trying to portray himself as Jesus, as people in Mexico later approached the actor who played the part, and asked him to do miracles for them. A man had played the part of Jesus, and now the people truly thought of him as Jesus. Some people who have viewed the movie, now say that they see the actor’s face in their minds as they pray. When they think of Jesus, they now think of a man. The problem is that that man is not the real Jesus, but another Jesus.

How did the early Christians interpret Exodus 20:6, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness…”? They interpreted it literally. Do you realize that there is no real statue or real picture or real engraving of Jesus anywhere in the world? If there was, all the pictures and statues and drawings of Jesus would be the same, because they would all be taken from the real one. How do you recognize George Washington? Because all pictures and statues of him are taken from the real image of him. How do you recognize Abraham Lincoln? Because all pictures and statues of him are taken from the real one.

When companies today print pictures of Jesus in their Sunday School material or as pictures to hang on the wall, their pictures all vary. Why? Because no one really knows exactly how Jesus looked. The Bible is careful to never give a detailed description of His looks, so that artists could not copy it and make an image or picture of Him. The most we are told about His earthly appearance is found in Isaiah 53:1-3, “Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”

The early Christians could have easily made a statue of Jesus’ image, or painted His picture, but they did not, because they understood that the Ten Commandments forbid such a thing. It is truly a miracle that there is not one real picture, drawing, or image anywhere to be found of someone who was as famous as Jesus. Think of the people who were healed by Him. They would never forget His face. It would have been so natural to reproduce it for a keepsake of the one who healed them. Think of the preachers today, and how their pictures appear everywhere in literature. Jesus had thousands who thronged Him and who listened attentively to Him teach (sometimes for days in a row), but we have not one real picture of Him anywhere. Surely there were many artistically-talented people who could have drawn His face — but not one exists. If there was such a picture, it would have been the pattern for all others down through the years, so it is clear that there is none.

What about images of the baby Jesus in the manger, like in nativity scenes? Many people think that that is an innocent thing, because it is just an image of a baby. Their thought is, “Well who would worship a baby?” The Bible is clear that Jesus was indeed worthy of all worship, even while He was yet a baby in the flesh. Matthew 2:1, 2, 11 says, “Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him... And when they were come into the house, THEY SAW THE YOUNG CHILD with Mary his mother, AND FELL DOWN, AND WORSHIPPED HIM: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.”

Simeon was an elderly man who looked at this baby, not just as a baby, but as the Savior of the world. Luke 2:25-33 says, “And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, THEN TOOK HE HIM UP IN HIS ARMS, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: FOR MINE EYES HAVE SEEN THY SALVATION, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.”

Anna was an elderly widow who spoke great things about this baby Jesus in Luke 2:36-38, “And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and SPAKE OF HIM TO ALL THAT LOOKED FOR REDEMPTION in Jerusalem.”

The baby Jesus was as fully worthy of worship as a tiny baby, as He was as a full grown man. Under these circumstances, there is no way to have a innocent image of the baby Jesus. He was just as much God when He was a baby, and He was when He was a full grown man. If it is wrong to make an image of Jesus as a full grown man, then it is also wrong to make an image of Him as a baby. He was fully worthy of worship in both states of earthly maturity.

Considering that no one really know what Jesus looks like, is it not picturing another Jesus to then paint a picture of Him? I recently had the opportunity to sign up for a contest to win a Cadillac SUV, but when I read the fine print, I found out that by entering, I was giving my consent that if I won, they could use my name, but someone else (an actor) as me in any advertising. What if they pictured me as someone with long hair or tattoos? Would that not be bringing my name to shame? Would that not be portraying a different person than who I really am? I do not look like that man. What if they placed an immodestly dressed woman in the commercial? She would not be my wife, but that is what they would be picturing her to be. They would be picturing, not the real me, but another person — a fake.  I abstained from signing up for the contest.

How do you think Jesus feels? His name is put to shame when He is pictured with long hair. When people think of Him, they see another man’s face. How would you like it if you went to war, and your wife did not have a picture of you, so she just picked out another man’s face to love and cherish? How would you like that? You would not.

It is wrong to have images of Jesus, or any likeness of Him (pictures, engravings, etc.), whether as a man, or as a baby. We have gotten far away from what the Bible clearly teaches us on this matter. John 4:24 says, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” 2 Corinthians 5:7 says, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” 1 Peter 1:7-9 says, “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: WHOM HAVING NOT SEEN, YE LOVE; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.” John 20:29 says, “Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: BLESSED ARE THEY THAT HAVE NOT SEEN, AND YET HAVE BELIEVED.” Acts 17:29, 30 says, “Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven BY ART OR MAN’S DEVICE. And THE TIMES OF THIS IGNORANCE God winked at; BUT NOW COMMANDETH ALL MEN EVERY WHERE TO REPENT.” There are many fundamental churches that need to take heed and repent.

FlagLine.gif (1691 bytes)

email2.gif (4742 bytes)   home2.gif (4757 bytes)   Previous Questions and Answers

Ask A Question