Bible Studies > Self-Portraits of God: Lesson 3

Self-Portraits of God

Studies in the Life and Work of Jesus

Lesson 3: Snap-shots in Titles

General Introduction

When I was in college there was a general good time had by all, except for the time spent in one or two classes in which one felt like they might never be able to get the credit required to be allowed to graduate. Exactly which class was The One that made life uncertain depended on the course of study being pursued, generally—except for the one or two classes that made almost everybody struggle.

One of the famous classes was a course in the fine arts which lasted all year long. Each quarter was a different topic; music, art, and literature. This means, of course, that we learned a lot about the famous places in the world, as well as the things that they were famous for—like the flying buttresses in architecture.

Many of these buildings and objects had a religious theme and often featured famous works of art, such as the paintings on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. To this student it seemed that there were artist’s ideas of the creation story, and portrayals of the life and death of Jesus, and conceptualizations of Jesus and His mother, on or in every building ever conceived during those long centuries we were learning about!

The question that seems to push itself into this lesson, as one re-lives those pictures we learned by author and location, is, why all this attention to the story of Jesus? What was He really like? Were those artist’s conceptions always correct? Where in the Bible does one look for a picture of Jesus?

I heard you! You said you had already figured out that I was going to suggest to you that the answer to these questions might be hiding in the titles that Jesus used and came with; and you are right. There seems to be a title appropriate for every facet of the story of salvation; for every picture painted. As such each title merges itself into a portrait of the activities and qualities of the one carrying that title.

Some of those titles are intriguing; titles from nature, like, The Branch, The Bright and Morning Star, the Lily of the Valley, or, the Rose of Sharon. And there are also those perhaps better known, but nebulous, descriptive titles composed of phrases such as, the Wrath of the Lamb, or, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.

Of course there are also titles everybody recognizes, even if everybody does not know that Jesus was called by them. Titles like Judge, Prophet, Servant, King, Lamb, or God.

Many of the meanings carried by these titles are just about what one would assume they mean, from their general use in daily vocabulary. However there are some fascinating titles, which are very easy to pronounce, and which are very often misunderstood.

As we proceed with this study that class in the fine arts will be somewhat close to all of us, I suppose, as we try to identify the pictures that seem to want to reveal themselves as we survey the vocabulary-colors making up each title-picture; and again you have already guessed that in this study we will be reviewing those titles that are the easiest to misunderstand.

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