Years ago my husband gave a Via de Cristo retreat talk entitled Study. He spoke about the many ways we study without even realizing it, and one of those ways is through art. He said that when he was a boy there was a huge painting of Christ, the King on the church wall behind the altar. He gazed at that picture week after week during worship and it’s now deeply engrained in his mind. It has influenced the way he sees and thinks about Jesus.
I realized that he was not the only one to have that experience. My childhood church had the same sort of design, but the picture I saw every week was Jesus, the Good Shepherd. In it, Jesus carries a lamb, and there are other sheep around Him. I have come to believe this is why, for me, the image of the Good Shepherd has deeply colored my experience and understanding of Christ. When I imagine myself meeting Jesus, this is the image that comes to my mind.
Christ the King depicts Jesus in His glory, surrounded by clouds, a crown on His head, with upraised arms. This is Jesus as God. As the Good Shepherd, Christ appears to be very gentle and approachable. This is Jesus the man. One emphasizes power and holiness, the other love and compassion. Both are equally valid and parts of the same person, but each can influence our emotions and understanding of Jesus.
So, I’m interested. Readers and authors, what is your dominant image of our Lord? Is there a picture in your mind? Where does it come from?