I’ve been wanting to dwell on art that depicts Christ lately. There’s something about it that helps me focus. It helps me leave wherever I am sitting, usually at a desk in front of a computer, and place myself somewhere else. It allows me to stand before Jesus in a new way. For the most part, the only way I’ve ever been taught to come into Jesus’ presence is through prayer—a certain type of prayer, the kind of prayer that is dominated by words. I encounter Christ by going through everything like a list: “Lord, help me with this;” “Jesus, forgive me for that;” “Lord, please be with ________.” And that kind of prayer does have an important place.
But if I think about my relationship with my wife, some of the most important moments in our relationship have been beyond words. They have taken place in silence. They have happened with glances, with held hands, with smiles, and sometimes through tears. Whatever they were, those moments defied words. And in those moments Rachel became more real to me.
I guess I’m seeking out some of those moments in my relationship with Jesus. I want him to become more real to me just by sitting with him. I think John would call that “abiding” in him (see John 15:4 in the King James Version). I also think (though I’m not sure) that this is partly what is meant by “contemplation.”
Likewise I’ve found that I can, if I’m not careful, go too long without noticing Rachel. Life becomes all about accomplishing tasks. We move from one chore to another--getting kids ready for school, figuring out what to do for dinner, scheduling events. And before long I have failed to pay much attention to her.
I think I’ve done this even more with Jesus. My relationship with Him has become (has always been, really) so task-oriented. But to work beside someone is just one way of getting to know them. The other way is to sit with them and look them in the eyes.
So today I would challenge you to sit with these images from Good Friday. Click here. Click here. Click here. Finally, click here. Just a warning, though--they are not very comforting. Especially the last one. I find them challenging because they remind me of the severe ramifications of the cross. Like I said last Sunday, we move too quickly from Jesus’ crucifixion to his resurrection. But isn’t it possible that, in doing so, we somehow temper the joy of Easter? I’ll let you react to them in your way. But to me they are reminders of the death, the very real death, of the Son of God. May we have the courage to face the awful consequences of our sin, and then celebrate all the more God's immeasurable grace.