The recording of family histories has changed over the years, from grainy sepia tone, to black and white, to full vivid color, to digital. The storage of these family memories has likewise transitioned from shoeboxes to archival paper with adhesive corners to magnetic pages in bound books to the ethereal album on a smartphone or in the electronic cloud.
Regardless of form and storage, a moment of history frozen in a photograph elicits conversation and story-telling of the “when, where, why, and what” of the event. For this reason, paging through a family photo album can easily lead to hours of meaningful history told by those who were there.
The pages of Holy Scripture give a unique and divinely inspired photo album. The pictures in this album are of our heavenly Father, our Brother—Jesus, our Comforter—the Holy Spirit, and of fellow brothers and sisters in the family of God during their respective times of grace.
Like any family photo album, this collection of pictures contains poignant images captured in times of deep sorrow—Peter’s repentant weeping, our Brother crying at the grave of Lazarus, the tears of those grieving Jesus’ death.
There are likewise moments of incredible joy captured in pictures for all to see—the mother and father receiving their daughter raised from the dead, the disciples pulling in more fish than their nets could hold, the awe-struck joy of the women seeing their risen Lord.
The worn pages and bent corners of yesteryear’s photo albums reveal where the favorite memories had been captured and where the favored stories of family history were found. As you page through God’s family album, where are your worn pages? Do you return again and again to pictures taken in Bethlehem at the birth of your Savior? Do you linger on the pages that reveal the power of God’s Son demonstrated in miracles? Are you drawn to the images recorded as Jesus told His parables—the Forgiving Father, the Good Samaritan, the Lost Sheep? Do you gaze longingly at the pictures of your Savior lifting the little children to His lap and holding them in His arms, or at your Servant-Brother getting down on hands and knees to wash the disciples’ feet?
Family photo albums don’t hold an archive of every experience. Similarly God’s family album is selective in what it contains. Certain details are not kept, yet every image in the album with its accompanying history appears there so “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31).
In every album there is always one picture that stands out as “the last one”—the picture of the last day at work before retirement, the last picture of the house before we sold it, the last picture of mom before she died, or the last Christmas we celebrated together.
As God inspired the recorded pictures and history of our Savior’s earthly life and ministry, there would likewise be a last one. The last picture of our Savior would need to endure for centuries as generations of God’s faithful children await their Savior’s return. The final picture would need to be one with meaning to capture the significance of all that Jesus has done.
This closing picture was taken near Bethany as Jesus “lifted up His hands and blessed them…was parted from them and carried up into heaven” (Luke 24:50-51).
This last picture is worthy of being framed and held in our hearts and minds forever. In this one final “snapshot” of our Savior, we see His hands lifted up—hands still bearing the wounds He endured for our transgressions. We see His hands lifted up in blessing and never coming down, for His blessing is ongoing and constant. We see Him ascend up to heaven—an assurance that He is seated at the right hand of God, exercising all power and authority for the benefit of His family.
The beauty of God’s family album is that its pictures and their history never wear out and never fade—“But the word of the Lord endures forever”
(1 Peter 1:25).
God’s divinely inspired album has no more pages to add, but it includes all that we need. Show the album with all its pictures to your children and grandchildren—tell them about their Father, their Brother, their family. Share it with friends, neighbors, co-workers—let them know that your Father has paid the adoption price for them too through the work of His Son.
When you return to God’s photo album and when you show others all the wonderful pictures it holds, spend time to linger on the last picture. And then offer a prayer of thanks to your Brother, for He has set you free from your sin, and His hands remain outstretched in blessing upon you.