Basket of Figs, April, 2004
15 Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the LORD spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire:
Christ appeared on this earth in a physical body, not to teach us to worship the physical, but so that He could die for our sins. But even Jesus on the cross is not to become an object of worship, as if we are edified in a participation in all the imagined gory details of His horrible death. The details are not set forth in Scripture, and God Himself darkened that hour as if it is something that is hidden from us.
The Christ that we worship is the One who is now exalted in glory, after rising from the dead victorious over death and hell. “Though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more,” is the way the Apostle Paul put it. [2Cor. 5:16] Although it is critical that we understand that the incarnation was real, the death of Christ in the flesh was real, His ascension into heaven as a man was real, and His coming again to judge the world is real, yet we do not worship a man, for the One who came in the flesh is none other but the Son of the Living God, begotten of God, eternal in the Godhead.
Because of this, we have no physical description of Jesus in the Bible. Art was very sophisticated in that day and God could have commissioned a painting of Christ to leave to the church. He did not, and He did not leave it to us. We are not to remember Him on the cross and no picture or description of that is given to us, other than the fact that it occurred. The only details given are those which fulfilled the Scriptures.
We know Him by faith in the soul and mind. We participate in his death and remember Him, not in carnal images, but in the communion of the Lord’s Supper. “As often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, you do show the Lord’s death till he come.” It is dying to the world, putting off the old man, and putting on the new man that we show the Lord’s death, not weeping at violent visual images. The Reformers rightly condemned the crucifix and forbade it in their churches, for we do not worship a dead Christ. Those who knew Him in the flesh did not recognize Him after His resurrection.
As Calvin wrote on 2Cor. 5:16: “The meaning is — ‘Though Christ lived for a time in this world, and was known by mankind in those things that have to do with the condition of the present life, he must now be known in another way — spiritually, so that we may have no worldly thoughts respecting him.’”