Imposing our ideas of Jesus

A Northeastern village in Spain was the home of a magnificent fresco painting of Jesus on the church’s wall.

Time took its toll on the painting…

moisture on the wall caused it to fade.

In 2012 an elderly parishioner named Cecilia Gimenez acted on her own to restore the project… tragically failing in her attempt.

The results?


Sadly, the painting has become a mockery. Once called “ecco homo” (behold the man), the work is now deemed “ecco mono” (behold the monkey).

The Internet is now full of memes and parodies.

Interesting enough, this tragic attempt at restoration is emblematic of what our world has been doing to Jesus for years—imposing our own convenient ideas and altered perception of Jesus, only to fall exceedingly short of his true identity.

As we approach this Christmas season, what if we sought who Jesus really was, not some altered perception of who we have shaped Jesus to be?

Jesus wasn’t just a healer.

He wasn’t just a great teacher.

He’s God, in the flesh, come to save us.

C.S. Lewis probably said it best:

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” ― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Have you sought the true Christ behind Christmas this season, God incarnate who came down to earth and dwelt among us?

“You really are the son of God.” –Matthew 14:33

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over twenty books including the brand new If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; Sex Matters; The Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket; and youth ministry books like Ministry By Teenagers; Connect; and the 10-Minute Talks series. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.
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One Response to Imposing our ideas of Jesus

  1. Tracey says:

    Thank you Jonathan for this important message. As a fan of Hallmark movies, especially the Christmas ones, I am saddened by the fact that they leave Jesus out as the only reason we celebrate Christmas or even have this holy day Christ Mass in the first place. One movie this year showed a stained glass window with Jesus and the lead character praying the Lord’s prayer. Great! But the rest of the movie was far from true Christianity. As like many things in secular culture, the traditions of Christmas mostly come from religious practices of old, and over the years Satan has co-opted them for his purposes and created a very different picture of Christmas. May we all see Jesus as HE was; the SON of the LIVING GOD, come to us in flesh to save us.

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