The Face of Christ: Part 5 – All Nations, Tribes, and Tongues

Now we have, in brief, dug into the history of Christian art and had the opportunity to enjoy art from around the world. So why bother to show all of these images? Why should it matter if we have a variety of art from around the world? I share them because they show how we are all part of one family. I do not mean that we are all part of one family just because we are all human, although that is true as well (Acts 17:26-27). It is more than that. We are one family because we are all part of the Body of Christ, part of the Church (Rom. 12:4-5, 1 Cor. 12:2, Gal. 3:28, Eph. 3:6, Col. 3:11, 15). And each member of the Body has glorified the Lord in their own unique way.

The beauty of all this is that it matters very little how we depict Jesus ethnically. It really doesn’t. Yeah, His earthly parents were Jewish, and as the gospel writers make no note of His appearance, we can probably safely assume he looked something like an early 1st century Jew. Furthermore, the only descriptions of Christ’s physical appearance that we have are either of His suffering and death or are symbolic (Isa. 52:13-53:12, Ezk. 1:27, Dan. 7:9, 10:6, Rev. 1:12-15, 2:18). We cannot know for sure what He looked like while He was on earth, but that doesn’t matter. What Jesus looked like is not the point. Jesus is the Son of God! What matters is what He did for us.

Similarly, it really does not matter what we look like or where we are from. What matters is that we are loved by God, who loves all people. Christ came for all, not just to the Jews or to only the sons of either Shem, Ham, or Japheth. Salvation does not depend on race or ethnicity. God came to save all people. The Gospel is for all people. Art is just one way to convey that message, and that is why we should keep it around for the generations of people to come! 

This clear message of God’s love for all people, and His desire for all people to be saved, can be found in Scripture from the beginning to the end.

And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.

Genesis 12:2-3

I will cause your name to be remembered in all generations;
    therefore nations will praise you forever and ever.

Psalm 45:17

For at that time I will change the speech of the peoples
    to a pure speech,
that all of them may call upon the name of the Lord
    and serve him with one accord.

Zephaniah 3:9

And this Gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

Matthew 24:14

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:19-20

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

Acts 1:2

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

John 3:16

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:28

This mystery is that through the Gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 3:6

Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

Colossians 3:11

This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. 

1 Timothy 2:3-5

And they sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation,

Revelation 5:9

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands,

Revelation 7:9

Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people.

Revelation 14:6

And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,

“Great and amazing are your deeds,

    O Lord God the Almighty!

Just and true are your ways,

    O King of the nations!

Who will not fear, O Lord,

    and glorify your name?

For you alone are holy.

    All nations will come

    and worship you,

for your righteous acts have been revealed.”

Revelation 15:3-4

through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

Revelation 22:2

Clearly, God loves all the people He created and desires all people to be saved. And how beautiful are these images of the created people of God singing praises to Him! How wonderful it is that all men are included in God’s gift of salvation! God wants all men to be saved, and one day all nations will stand before God. There is no difference in our cultural or ethnic background. At least, no difference as to whether we can be saved or can be a part of the Body of Christ. All are one in Christ Jesus.

Through history, we can better understand our past, other nations, and how God works through people. By understanding history and other people, we can better appreciate art from all cultures. And most of all, by understanding the Gospel, we can understand the need to love all people, love one another, and share that Gospel with all people as our brothers and sisters. When we look at others, we should see God’s children, created and loved by Him, and celebrating His love by depicting Him in their art.

Blessings to you and yours,

~Madelyn Rose Craig

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