how we look at pictures of Jesus

March 17, 2008

Once a month we have a “youth service”, although mostly attended by high-school kids, more and more I attempt to do it in a why to be more of an “alternative service”, with discussions, image-rich, and participation if possible. Not easy though. Last night we discussed the meaning of the cross and the fact that God could die. I used Acts 8, the story of the Eunuch, and worked with the idea that the text which is mentioned that he read, almost seem like he must have thought that this text apply to himself (read the story, and for a moment think what this poor castrated man must have thought when reading this text, and then see his question about the text). The message was that God can identify with our suffering, cause he know what suffering is himself, since he died on the cross (think Moltmann – crucified God).

I started with a discussion on the hand of some images. First was the word “Jesus”, and everybody just said what got into their heads. From there on different images of Jesus was shown. Of interest what how we were tought to not see the literal parts of Jesus playing with the lambs, but rather the metaphorical, how ancient art had absolutely no meaning to young people (which obviously ask the question what the ancients would have thought of our images), how we mainly see the divine in images, and not the human.

And then, as part of the series, I showed a picture of the face of Christ while lying on his back on the cross, with a hammer and nail in the foreground just before the nail is entering his hand. The reactions? “Fear” and “pain” were most dominant, with a few similar words, and then, after about 15 seconds, the reactions changed… “peace” and “fearlessness” then suddenly dominated the discussion. It was beautifully illustrated, I couldn’t have planned this to happen… so sad how we are indoctrinated about the meaning of the cross, in such a way that we miss the meaning of the cross. We miss the fact that it was a man which hung on the cross, it was really bad, really not what he wanted, really because he angered the authorities in such a way that they felt it fit to crucify him.

The first reactions I think was closer to what we ought to see when thinking of Jesus on the cross, the second what we were taught along with the idea that the cross what Jesus’ big plan.

The first bring us to a God that understand what rejection mean, what pain mean, to a God that has experienced this. The second to a God that in his divine might went to the cross triumphantly, which might have been in love, and which I can be thankful for, but cannot identify with necessarily. Maybe the two isn’t incompatible, but oh well, this was the thoughts from last night.

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