Sunday, December 30, 2012

Images of Christ

Dear Austin,

You probably won't read this for many years, but when you do, I hope it helps you in some way.  Today I was in Magdalene's class, and the other teacher gave a great year-end wrap up of lessons taught.  Most of the lessons were taught before I got called as a co-teacher.  She did an excellent job, and brought a great love to the class.  Your teacher carries the same love for you, and always tell me what a "sweet little boy" you are, and how she just loves you and your cute little cheeks.  But imagine that being said with a thick southern accent.  That's how your teacher tells us she loves your sweet guts. haha!

In Magdalene's class, there was something I wanted to share with you.  Actually from the whole of Primary.  During song time, the sister leading the music showed a picture that was meant to be baby Jesus.  I kind of laughed, because it's clearly a photo, and from what I can tell, there were no cameras in Jesus' day, but the sweet sister cooed at cute baby Jesus, and lots of the kids did too.  Kinda fun.  Anyways, I went to Maggie's class and we saw more "pictures", which were more in the form of paintings.  And guess what.  ALL of the pictures of Jesus were pretty much the same.  The same face, same beard, same body, same hair color... same Jesus!  Oddly enough, while I know it's a painting of Jesus, he didn't look familiar to me.

There's a book I was reading a few weeks ago called Nephi's Isaiah (written by a man named Denver Snuffer).  I hope you read it when you're older.  In it, the author spends some time writing about how Jesus is often referred to by many names, one being the Lamb of God.  This was a really neat section, because he talked about how Jesus looked young, like a "lamb".  He differentiated between a sheep and a lamb, and made the clear distinction that Christ was everything that the older, wiser people didn't expect.  He was teaching Priests in the temple when he was twelve years old.  Did they want to hear someone preaching to them, expounding what only the Scribes should have known (Scribes were the guys who kept the records)?  At this time, Jesus was only barely older than Josten is now.  I think they probably didn't like that.

To continue that idea, Jesus didn't look the part, and didn't always act the part.  He hung out with harlots, thieves, poor people, lepers... you name it.  Perhaps if He came to America, He might hang out with people with tattoos, prostitutes, drug addicts, homeless people.  People who clearly needed help and love.  But when he was mortal, Jesus didn't please the elites or the rich, despite being much wiser than they were.

As I thought about that in these paintings, it doubly made me think, and wonder why Jesus didn't look familiar to me, even though I've seen these pictures hundreds of times.  In these paintings, it looks like the same person was used to represent Christ, but he looks old.  Does Jesus really look that old?  He looks at least 40-something, nearing 50-something.  Not that that's old, but it's certainly not early 30s, which is when his ministry took place.  That's younger than me, and you should know, I look young.  In fact, Jesus is said to have been killed about 33 years old.  That's a year younger than me now.  I bet you won't even remember me looking this young, by the time you read this!  In any event, personally, I know that more respect is generally given to someone who looks older, even if they're not older.

For example, Daddy and I are near the same age, but Daddy will get treated more like an adult at times than I do.  Why?  I suspect at times it's because I'm short, and I look young.  I look like a kid.  Perhaps more like a sheep than a lamb, despite having four children.  At times the lack of respect is obvious.

This makes me wonder, if Snuffer's descriptions are correct, was the lack of respect given to Christ added upon by the fact that he looked young?  I don't know.  Just something for you to think about.

The reason I'm writing this to you is that you have a sensitive spirit, and I expect that as you grow,  you will always have a close relationship with the Savior, no matter what happens in your life.  Despite seeing these pictures, I hope you will envision your own picture of Jesus, and I hope his face is more familiar to you than this man, who appears to be much older than a "lamb".  He appears more like a "sheep".

Another part of the sister's lesson was spent a bit on this, and how Jesus was crucified.  She explained that of all the ways to die, crucifixion is one of the most painful.  Jesus not only suffered for our sins in Gethsemane, but also severely on the cross.  For hours, from what we are told in the scriptures.  Can you imagine?  I remember feeling the most severe pain in my life that came and went for a few hours, but it wasn't constant like this must have been.  Excruciating.

Following this picture, the sister showed this one.

She asked why Jesus kept the marks on his hands and feet and side.  She answered that they were scars that Jesus would be "proud" of, so he could always remember what he had done for us.  That made me raise an eyebrow, and wonder if I agreed.  (I always keep an ear our for the word "proud".  Maybe "honored" might be a better word?)  I always understood that these marks were for us to recognize Him.  This made me wonder how much of our scars will be taken away.  Some of them are meant for us to remember what we have learned.  This is true on not only physical, but also emotional and spiritual levels.

Lastly, this picture was shown.  (I was really enthralled by her storytelling, probably more so than the rest of the class.  It was as if I'd never heard these stories before.  She did a really good job.)  She said that when Jesus comes again, it won't be quietly, in a stable when he first came.  She said that the angels said when he comes again, it will be coming down from the heavens, as he had ascended, and will be done in great glory, as this picture depicts.  What a wonderful thought.

It made me wonder if it would be while I'm yet alive.  I always thought, as a teenager, that He would come by the time I was the age I am now.  And here I am, the world is changing rapidly, but He still has not come. There are many more signs and prophecies that need to be fulfilled, but I still look forward to that day with hope, whether or not it is in my lifetime.

I hope that if it's during your lifetime, you're prepared.  There's a lot to experience before that happens, and I hope that we do everything we can to help you do whatever your mission is in life.  We love you lots.

~Mom <3

p.s. - all these photos are by Harry Anderson, and while I copied them from various sites, I believe the LDS Church holds the rights to their use.  xo

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