Suppose you came across an old family photo album entitled “humanity”…
In this photo album there were all kinds of photographs, some from very very long ago, even right at the beginning of when photography was actually created. As you glance through the photographs you would find pictures with captions on them, many dating back several thousands of years.
As a good student of photography and history you decide to take the album to several places to have it checked out, you take it to an antiques store and then to an arts store, later you take it to a museum of photography and allow the learned men there to analyse the pictures and the writings to see if it is authentic or a fake.
Glancing through the album of humanity you discover odd captions on some of the pictures, things like “Jesus Wrassles a bear”, and the picture is kind of blurry and smeared, still later in other sections you find captions that say things like “Jesus beating his negro slaves” or “Yeshua destroys his enemies with hailstones” and again the pictures are quite blurry and shadowy with no distinct character at the center, you’re not even sure which character is Jesus or Yeshua, many times the captions say things that do not relate at all to the picture itself, but there they sit in the timeline of the album.
As you flip through the album the pictures towards the end start showing a character named Jesus and the pictures many times are quite crisp, pictures of him healing many people, or arguing with religious leaders, there are pictures of his disciples and pictures of him teaching, in several sections there are pictures of his trial and execution all from different angles and camera’s, including black and white, and color, some in dark light some in pigmented light, some of the pictures are even abstract with captions like “Jesus cleanses the Temple” and the colors are sepia like the old fashion colors used by the photographs in the Amos and Hosea sections and the clothes and style even seem to be staged, like Jesus is play acting as one of the old prophets pictures.
There’s even one picture where Jesus is making vintage wine in a matter of moments at a wedding party.
Some of the pictures are underdeveloped, some are overdeveloped and there is way to much light. Some of the pictures have stains on them and block out part of the frame, many of the older ones have thumbs in them covering up parts of the main scene.
But as you go through the photo album of humanity it becomes clear that Jesus is the central character that humanity has been taking pictures of even though the captions mislabel him, all throughout history, each phase of photography reflects the style of the day, even the captions reflect the culture and habits of the people who took the pictures.
Many of the pictures are strange (like Jesus wrassles a bear) some sections are COMPLETELY staged as if the artist only had one lense and a few negative metal slides to use so the everything in the picture was set up beforehand rather than a natural event being captured (even though the caption implies a natural event).
The science folks and experts write a report and tell you, yes the pictures are from an authentic period in humanities development, but it is obvious the photographs were staged because that was the common practice of the era when they were taken, and all the clothing points to a certain style of “Artistica photographe” rules of light/stage/actors/setting/etc. They tell you the composition of the captions and ink are all similar to period photography from the Ur of Chaldees and Babylonian historical photography books, the use of light and staging to create a “natural” moment that is anything but natural was a common practice and they show you books where “Marduk wrassles a bear” and another where “Anu wrassles Tiamat” (From the book of Enuma Elish) the photographs shown are similar in lighting, composition and blurriness.
They also tell you about the captions and the way the people who took the pictures saw the photographs and even how they staged them in the frames of the book a certain way and order. In the report written by the handwriting experts they tell you that the captions are as authentic as any they have ever seen, all of them consistent with the handwriting styles of the era, they are quite amazed at how well preserved the album is.
As you ponder over the pictures it becomes clear that a story does in fact develop and it is the story of how humanity see’s Jesus, with the pictures near the end of the book being the clearest.
The pictures about loving your neighbor and the resurrection of all humanity in Jesus are in stark black and white, yet there are a series of pictures near the end where all of the photographs are staged again, and the style is reminsicant of “Jesus wrassles a bear” but the pictures are definitely Jesus it’s just the captions that are strange, like one where he is a little lamb with blood pouring out of his wounds but the title say “Jesus the Lion” and all of the pictures in the section entitled “Revelation” are staged in the old fashioned mode like before.
The experts at the arts store tell you that there is a rare level of artistic genius in several of the pictures, genius that is on a level beyond anything they have ever examined, the pictures at the beginning of sections show a similar genius at work even though the pictures are separated by many thousands of years of film quality and development tools. They want to know how is it possible that the same exact style of composition and light could be reproduced in an exact “natural” moment, they are stunned that all of the pictures are public domain and are not in a museum somewhere.
Not all of the pictures are the same quality though…some are very bad polaroids and some are very fast high quality film paper, some are cheaply developed and some are exquisitely framed, a few of the pictures are old fashioned metal plate and some are actually hand drawn… many are signed and some are not.
There are pictures that suggest a different alternate reality, pictures that are confusing because they seem to be taken in a very strange environment, almost like a different planet where there are two suns in the sky, two moons, two earths and yet the experts all agree the pictures are authentic and have been taken right here on our earth because there are landmarks we know that are real, but the surreal landscape inside the photograph challenges your view of science, physics and life itself, and the experts all say the photo has not been tampered with, but because it is in the album where we know things were staged it is not to be taken seriously, but you wonder. Many of the captions on these alternate pictures say things like “The kingdom of God is within you” or “A new heaven and a new earth”.
At the end of the day you realise that you have an enormous treasure on your hands, it is both an evolution of humanities attempt to take a picture of Jesus but it also has some incredible pictures that seem to suggest He is in every selfie taken in our culture, that he is a very real person, but he can also be found in the rivers and oceans, the sunrise and sunset, but most of all in humanity itself.
It is a stunning book that shows you history, some strange costumes, and cultures and also a strange new world that is not visible to your natural eye but is apparently just as real as what you can see now.
It is art, it is poetry, it is history it is future technology, it is about Jesus and humanity, but thats not the strangest part about the album, as a matter of fact those details pale in comparison to what you have found…
See the really strange thing about the photo album is the pictures that you are in…this is why you took it to the experts in the first place and yes they have verified that the pictures are all authentic, that there has been no “photoshopping” or manipulating of the film but there you are right in the middle of many of the frames, some good some bad and you hope the experts don’t notice it’s you.
But there are favorites as well…
In the picture labelled “Abbas 1st grade class resurrection 30 AD” there you are in the front row missing your teeth from the baseball that hit you just like the pictures at home.
In the picture labelled “Love your neighbor as yourself” you can clearly see yourself wearing your favorite blue jean jacket from your freshman year at college, and it’s authentic.
Then there’s the picture of you getting healed of palsy, or delivered from alcohol or saved from depression and drugs, clearly you are in the photo completely healed even though in real life some of those troubles persist.
You are stunned that you are in so many of the pictures, even the execution picture your face is in the crowd screaming for blood…and the picture of Jesus being beaten and whipped, there’s your back, definitely it’s yours you recognize the curve of the spin and then the chiller is the picture of Jesus on the cross forgiving his persecutors…it’s your mouth asking the Father to forgive them…
The photo album seems to be magic…yet it is clearly not, it is simple pictures in a leather binding…and the experts all agree it’s not a fake but it’s just a big book of pictures.
But once you see yourself in it…you love it and this is exactly why the Father loves the bible, because it is a family album of his favorite kids, yes it’s about humanities search for pictures of Jesus but it’s also about you and I…who wouldn’t love that book?