Church Warden, Trevor Lines, reflects on the story of the temptation of Christ and turns to visual art to illuminate his understanding of scripture.
Here we are in Lent again and looking forward to the joys of Easter Day. You may be thinking that we’ve got some way to go!
I have always been fascinated by the story of the temptation of Christ by the devil and, as ever, I often turn to visual art to illuminate my understanding of scripture. If we’re looking for comfort, we may be drawn to the numerous images of a serene Christ who never really looks challenged by some monstrous looking beast, snapping at his heels.
However, I doubt such depictions are very illuminating, given where we are today. I don’t want some perfect, untouchable Jesus sat up on a celestial pedestal. There lies the temptation of disbelief; pie in the sky.
For many people there are reasons not to be cheerful. The pandemic has robbed many people of their lives, their loved ones, their health. The climate crisis is a real and present danger. The human suffering in Ukraine, Afghanistan and Yemen is desperate.
Humanity can seem overwhelmed, lost, ‘in the wilderness’ (if you like). And that is where a painting ‘Forty Days in the Wilderness’ by William Hole speaks to the moment. Here is a picture of a very human Jesus who knows what suffering is. He is sitting amongst forbidding and jagged rocks. He is tired and ragged; his head is stooped forward as if the weight of the world is upon his shoulders and he looks at us, needing our help.
Forty days in the wilderness, tempted by Satan by William Brassey Hole (1846-1917) – Christ in the Wilderness or the Temptation of Christ.
Too gloomy? I don’t think so. For a start, it is always good to be reminded that God empowers us to make this world a better place and it is invigorating that Jesus was human, just like you and me.
I’m not so keen on pedestals!