Readers of the New Testament know that Jesus used terms familiar to his listeners. Such terms as sheep, flowers, light, and trees took on meanings of eternal import as the Master clothed them with dignity and truth that burned visual images into the hearts of listeners.
The objects of his imagery, such as whited sepulchers, camels, and harvest fields, were present nearly everywhere. A listener need only look around to be reminded of the Savior’s teachings.
But time and space have made some of these figures of speech less clear. And in our increasingly urban and industrialized world, the once-common sights of Jesus’ day are now seen by far fewer people.
The photographic essay that follows should help readers better understand and appreciate the imagery Jesus used. The scenes, sights, and objects were all photographed in the towns, hills, and environs where Jesus would have walked.
The sequence uses figures of speech gathered from the Gospels. The order does not represent one particular sermon of Jesus, yet all are in harmony with his teachings.
Here, then, is imagery of the Master.
[photo] “[The shepherd] calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. … He goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. … I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. … My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish” (John 10:3–5, 14, 27–28).
[photos] “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt. 4:19).
[photo] “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12).
[photo] “What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?” (Luke 15:7).
[photo] “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:3).
[photos] “Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather … figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit” (Matt. 7:16–17).
[photo] “It is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. And they that heard it said, Who then can be saved? And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God” (Luke 18:25–27).
[photo] “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing” (Matt. 5:13).
[photo] “When [Jesus] saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them. … Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest” (Matt. 9:36–38).
[photos] “He that received seed into the good ground … beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty” (Matt. 13:23).
[photo] “Woe unto you, … hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones” (Matt. 23:27).
[photo] “Consider the lilies how they grow. … If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and tomorrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?” (Luke 12:27–28).
[photo] “For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? … So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:28).
[photos] Photography by Floyd Holdman