In a new book, two pastors in the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America – Gordon Keddie and David Whitla – have compiled a ‘photograph album’ or ‘picture gallery’ of forty of these portraits of the Lord which I want to commend to the readers of Gentle Reformation.
What photographs adorn your walls, shelves, tables and desk? Most of us surround ourselves with pictures of our loved ones that remind us of them and prompt memories of particular occasions that we don’t want to forget. No doubt you have some favourite pictures – perhaps you carry one around in your purse or wallet, or (more likely) set as your phone’s lockscreen. It’s very unlikely that you have only one single picture of your loved ones, because one just can’t do them justice. So you have a whole range – from different angles, at different ages, bringing out different aspects of their personality: the romantic setting, the action shot, the noble pose, the playful, goofy, candid snap. And even then, several gigabytes’ worth of pictures later, you still haven’t captured them.
If that’s true of us as ordinary human beings, how much more true is it of the Lord Jesus Christ. We don’t have a photograph, a painting or even a description of his physical appearance, but in the Scriptures he is revealed in a wide and rich variety of ways. One of these ways is in numerous metaphors – word pictures – that provide us with insight into different aspects of the Lord’s person and work. Each of these is like a portrait of Christ: Altar, Banner, Chosen Stone, Fountain, Hope, King, Master of the House, Rain, Refiner, Temple, and many more.