Jesus and How We Imagine Him

Where do you find Jesus? By that I mean, how do you picture or imagine him in your mind’s eye? Have you ever thought about your process? or does this seem idolatrous to create an “image” of Jesus even in the privacy of your mind?

Christ and the Samaritan Woman, Henryk Siemiradzki, oil on canvas, 1890, The Lvov Picture Gallery, Lvov Ukraine
The stories we find in the Bible are filled with little details that separately may seem like nothing but together they can give us tremendous insight into the life of Jesus and plant him into a real time and space.

I love how this artist has captured the moment of Jesus speaking to the “Samaritan Woman at the Well,’ and frozen it in time. The story is so familiar, we might think there no need to linger over it again, but gazing at this painting can bring it all to life and so I encourage you, as I did, to spend time with John 4: 1-26

“Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was the sixth hour.”

Notice all the little detail of light and shade in the painting….

The type of trees and vegetation in the surrounding….

Jesus is tired but confident and relaxed….

When a Samaritan Woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Will you give me a drink?'”

Jesus is tired, but still open to strangers…

The woman is young and dressed exotically…

Jesus sees her and speaks to her…

“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”

Jesus is generous with his time and open to people who are outcasts. He decides that she is worthy of his effort…his seeing.

When I stop, and drink in this scene planting Jesus in a realistic landscape, the story blooms in my mind and becomes alive to my senses. Jesus steps off the pages and becomes vividly real on this hot and dusty day.

If I linger still longer, I can begin to imagine all the sights and sounds that accompany the scene… If I let myself I can feel the breeze in the trees and the sound of the birds…

Are there children playing in the distance?

I wonder what his voice sounded like?

Instead of keeping the scene at arm’s length, step into it.

Where are you in the scene? Are you an observer or a participant in the conversation? Imagine Jesus speaking to you… personally. After all, isn’t this why we read the scriptures? to hear a message for our own lives. So imagine that you came upon Jesus one afternoon, and he spoke to you. What would he say to you?

This kind of examination may seem a little uncomfortable at first but if we dare to look closely and to linger in stillness, we might be surprised by what he would say to us.

I hope you will spend time this year imagining Jesus. And it is my hope and prayer that I may be of some small help in your travels of the mind.

Listen now to Paul as he writes: Philippians 3: 8-9

I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.

Dear Lord, Guide us into a greater knowledge of you in 2015. Help us to imagine your presence daily and when we do, help us to stop and really listen for the sound of your voice as you are calling to us to go out into the world each day. Thank you for the many blessings you surround us with each day and keep us in your loving care.



4 Comments Add yours

  1. jkclarkston1 says:

    I so loved the song, one of my favorites.


  2. Mine too:) Thanks for reading and commenting:))


  3. jkclarkston1 says:

    I read your blog again, and I must say it was worth it, and started my day with a song, the song you picked, and I reviewed the painting. I imagined the shock of the women, that this Jewish man was talking to her. Many lesson in this in counter. Thank you for your thoughts.


  4. We sang it in church on Sunday. Wonderful song that the Spirit popped into my head as I was writing. So glad you re-read and listened:)


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