Thursday, June 22, 2017. The bible is full of fantastic images. They appear on different levels: there is the strength of the historical events themselves. They are fact, but at the same time given to us as templates of faith to relate ourselves to what happened long ago. There are the parables and images which Jesus uses when he preaches. And there are the images which we find in the letters of the New Testament and in the Revelation, the last book of the bible, with far reaching prophetic words.
Do you like them? …
Do you like biblical images? Perhaps they are difficult to understand? Do you feel frightened by these images? Or do you like them, do they talk to you? All humans have an emotional level, a level of conscieous and unconscious feelings and processes, and we have a conscious level of reason. All of these levels of our existence play a role when we read biblical texts, and all of them are addressed by the biblical images. Have a look into the first chapter of the Revelation, for example:
12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15 his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. 17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. 19 Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this. 20 As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches. (from Revelation 1)
I love it! …
I have to say that I love the biblical images. The more I read in the biblical books, the more I study them, the more I love the images. Jesus is called the lamb of God - it is one of such images. And it communicates so many things, his whole passion, his character, his role, the salvation he brings. In the above text, the vision describes “one like a son of men”. This phrase “son of men” reaches back thousand years into the Jewish scriptures, the prophets of the Old Testament. It is an image and message at the same time.
Why would the eternal God want to be with humans? To some of our contemporaries the whole biblical tradition is far to human-centric. It seems to be made from humans for humans. This goes deep into the prophetic images - such as the above passages from the Revelation. But if God, as it is claimed, created men as man and woman, if God wanted to relate to creation, if he wanted to live in community with mankind from the very beginning, why should he not talk to us on a level we can understand? He does!
The christmas story is the reunification of God with mankind through Christ Jesus. “God became man!” That is the core message. And: Christ died for us. And: Your faith has saved you. And: do not be afraid! Here, we find the role of Christ described in fantastic images … take these images, take them serious, and they will start to talk to you, on many layers and levels of your life! Try it … (Roland Potthast) ... more texts