Another thought from the Philadelphia Museum of Art exhibit – Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus: the Face of Jesus is full of compassion and human emotion. Historically, artists before Rembrandt painted Jesus with a holy expression in a sort of non-human, even flat, representation. A caricature. Rembrandt changed things. He painted in the early days of the Reformation, when everything about the practice of Christianity was changing. There was talk about the priesthood of all believers, in other words, each of us can pray directly without the intermediary of another human. The Scriptures were being printed (thanks to Mr. Gutenberg and the new moveable-type printing press) and getting into the hands of everyman. Christianity was coming out of the church hierarchy and into the population in general. It was the right time for people to see Jesus as “real” in a new way.
Rembrandt lived in a Jewish neighborhood. I picture him looking at historical paintings of Christ and thinking to himself: that Jesus doesn’t look like my Jewish neighbors! So he painted Jesus looking more like a flesh and blood Jewish man. Which, of course, He was.
And so it is for us now. Jesus is more real than we ever imagined. He has truly lived a real human life in a real human body. He is God in flesh and bone. He has felt everything you are feeling. For real.
Therefore, you are invited to tell Him honestly how it is to be you right now, bereft and confused and whatever you are feeling now:
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16
Because of who He is, hold on:
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.” Hebrews 4:14
He understands our need to have more evidence or clarity, when life is especially unbelievable:
“Now Thomas … one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord!’
But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.’
A week later… he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’
Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’” John 20:24-28
And He will meet you where you are. Eventually, you will see Him and know Him so much more intimately:
“Then Job replied to the LORD: ‘I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.’ You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” Job 42:1-5
God has made Himself known and available to people who were having a hard time with faith and understanding, just like you. Open your heart. Open your eyes. Wait for Him.