If you search for images of Jesus on the Internet you will find an unending supply of everything from the serious to the comic, pious to the sacrilegious, realistic to the saccharine. Jesus has always been an appropriated figure by different Christian groups, but now it seems everyone appropriates Jesus for any reason, group, or perspective. Or, to put it another way, Jesus is increasingly seen as a non-religious figure who can be anything you want him to be. I think this can be seen as both a bad thing and a good thing.
Bad because Jesus was and is who he was and is. Any other perspective or viewpoint is not true. That would hold true for our perspective of anyone. But it’s good because so many traditional images of Jesus are just as wrong headed as the many non-traditional. It is a good thing to have our assumptions challenged, and to be reminded that we may not know as much as we think we do. If we don’t take Jesus seriously then, I suppose, anything goes. But if we do take him seriously then it makes sense to find out who he really was – and is. I would expect non-Christians to have fairly limited knowledge of Jesus but, ironically, many Christians do as well.
I saw a lot of politicized images of Jesus. One of the biggest debates going on today (consciously and unconsciously) is whether Jesus was a political figure with a political agenda and whether that political agenda was conservative or liberal. I am inclined to think Jesus was more of a political figure than I have been taught, and I am inclined to see the more liberal side of his politics. However, I think his politics were far more radical than either left or right.
As for those images, here are some of the least offensive, but still non-reverent, images I found in just a few minutes:
Now I recognize how goofy these images of Jesus are, but so are classic Victorian ones like this:
And yet, we have this one in our house and I like it. Hmm.