For my class next week, I have been preparing a short Keynote presentation of a number of paintings of Jesus. I will also use at least one song to help present a series of images of Jesus, to try to help students recognize how much our cultural context shapes how we imagine Jesus.
This is easy to do visually, simply by presenting various Asian, African or Latino paintings of Jesus, as well as those from specific eras in western history, such as the medieval period.
Another basic question is how we think of Jesus, in terms of which stories or actions we think of, pre-reflectively. I suspect that a very large proportion of Christians (and most others who have heard the story of Jesus, too) basically think of Jesus as dying or dead. The cross is the basic image and this is more than appropriate. But it is also crucial to see the cross in terms of Jesus' life and without his life and mission, it does not make sense. Nor should we separate the cross from his destiny, his resurrection. In that sense, it is crucial that we think of Jesus not only as dying, but as living; not only as past but also as present, and indeed future.
While searching through many sources, I found one superb painting by a Jesuit father, Jim Hasse SJ, with a poem attached. Here it is. It is for me simply a wonderful piece to reflect upon.
Before Pilate’s injustice
Before Herod’s mockery
Over Satan’s deceptions
Of thief and executioners
For weeping women
For his mother
To his Father’s will.