Not too long ago, the National Catholic Reporter ran a contest asking artists from around the world to submit slides of their works that best portrayed "Jesus for the third millennium." More than 1,000 entries from 19 countries were received. The winner, titled "Jesus of the People," featured a dark-skinned, effeminate character in dreadlocks, complete with a yin-yang symbol and Indian feathers. Although it had its enthusiasts, most were not pleased. One critic wrote, "It is nothing but a politically correct modern blasphemous statement reflecting the artist's and the so-called judge's spiritual depravity." Another, commenting on the "universality" of the winning image, felt he could do better: "My Jesus will be a narcoleptic vegetarian astronaut clown mime who lives in a Sri Lankan tree with three lesbian popes and sings the boogie-woogie in Navajo. And I'll probably win." This latter critic's sarcasm highlights the utter absurdity in all of this, while the former critic describes the blasphemous nature of such an endeavor.
First, the absurdity. Whether it's a contemporary image with dreadlocks, or Salvador Dali's "Christ" represented in his Crucifixion, or Tintoretto's 16th century Christ Before Pilate, they all have one important thing in common: they aren't Jesus! None of them are even close to what Jesus looks like-not that "close" counts for anything. A picture that isn't actually of me, but resembles me, is still not me.
I hope it's become apparent how inane it is to have an image that is someone's guess as to what Jesus looks like. Yet it seems that many evangelicals don't get it.
T.A. McMahon "Showtime for the Sheep?: The Church and The Passion of the Christ" pp. 77-78