In response to my previous post Exploring Da Vinci’s Last Supper, one of our church members has pointed me towards a new take on this masterpiece, a copy of which is now hanging in St. Alban’s Cathedral. This version, by Lorna May Wadsworth, features a black Jesus, based on a Jamaican born model, provocatively jars with our usual image of Jesus.
This reminds me of the results of a investigation a number of years back that sought to determine what Jesus may have looked like, based on his cultural and geographical context as a Middle Eastern Jew in Palestine. An image from this can be seen on the BBC website. It is a far cry from the white, blue eyed, long hair look that we’ve become accustomed to. Jesus was not an Englishman, and we run the risk of misunderstanding him and his message if we see him through our Western eyes.
These images take me back to visiting the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, the church on the site where the angel Gabriel is traditionally believed to have told Mary that she would give birth to Jesus. In its courtyard are 43 images donated by countries from around the world depicting Mary and often Jesus as well. You can see them if you scroll down on this page. Often the representations have mother and child portrayed as if they were of their nationality, so there are depictions of Jesus that make him look Central American, oriental, Mediterranean etc. This is a great counter-point to the previous paragraph, although Jesus was born to a specific place and time and gender, he came for all. Our challenge perhaps is to listen to how others depict him so that we don’t confine him to our own setting and so lose sight of the unique insights that others have into him, or inhibit others from realising that he is just as much for them as he is for us.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
Posts labelled ‘From the Pastor’s Pen’ reflect our ministers’ views and not necessarily those of Wormley Free Church/The Connexion