A Man Of Sorrow | acrylic on panel | 36"x48"
I don’t do a lot of paintings of Jesus. For one, we don’t know what he looked like and I don’t want to progress the eurocentric Jesus we’ve all come to corporately believe in. I’ve spent years trying to get blond/white Jesus-knocking-on-the-door out of my head when I contemplate Him. Second, I’d rather spend time visually depicting what He talked about than rather trying to represent his physical features.
Man Acquainted With Grief | acrylic on canvas | 48"x48"
But in this past year, I’ve had a friend and a grandfather die and I’ve contemplated a lot the pain of death we face in our reality.
My last two years of high school were spend at a christian boarding school in the middle of nowhere Minnesota. While there we had to memorize scripture for one of our classes. So of course the first one you learn is the shortest verse in the bible: John 11:35, “Jesus wept.” Jesus cried when he was at the burial tomb of his friend Lazarus. He resurrected Lazarus from the dead, which is the amazing part of the story… but what I find amazing in this passage is that Jesus, the fullness of God incarnate,… cries at human death. There, in the midst of Lazarus’ sisters and all his friends, even though He knew He was going to raise him, He weeps.
This verse has become so important to me. In fact, if this little verse did not exist in the Jesus narrative, I don’t know if I would trust Him. I don’t know if I would trust a God-who-became-man and never once wept in the face of death and the suffering that we all experience from that. If He never wept it would seem as though He was insulated through all that we have to go through. I couldn’t trust a God who had insulated Himself from us.
But He didn’t. He took it in. He gets what is happening to us.
So I made these paintings to remind me of that. I think Jesus was full of laughter and joy. I think Jesus is now radiant and like the sun, full of glory and might. But during His brief time on this earth, I think He was also full of grief. To be human is to experience sorrow.
I’m thankful He knows our story.Isaiah 53 1 Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2 For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot,
And like a root out of parched ground;
He has no stately form or majesty
That we should look upon Him,
Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.
3 He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. 4 Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
6 All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him. 7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment He was taken away;
And as for His generation, who considered
That He was cut off out of the land of the living
For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?
9 His grave was assigned with wicked men,
Yet He was with a rich man in His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was there any deceit in His mouth. 10 But the LORD was pleased
To crush Him, putting Him to grief;
If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
He will see His offspring,
He will prolong His days,
And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.
11 As a result of the anguish of His soul,
He will see it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,
And He will divide the booty with the strong;
Because He poured out Himself to death,
And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors.