ODJ: beware kitsch Jesus

May 29, 2015 

READ: John 20:24-28 

Then [Jesus] said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side” (v.27).

Kitsch Jesus” is very popular. In paintings and posters he’s portrayed as having straight teeth, perfect skin, bright blue eyes and long, flowing hair. He’s often in soft focus, sitting in a peaceful sunlit field and is almost always gazing lovingly at the lamb he cradles in his arms. “Kitsch Jesus” wears long, white robes even when he’s painted in a modern setting, and occasionally he holds a shepherd’s staff. “Kitsch Jesus” rarely has a care in the world and never sports a furrowed brow. He’s a lavender-scented, greeting-card Jesus who is all pixies and daisies and skipping through the fields.

Please don’t think me insensitive. Such artistic representations of Jesus are not all bad: they remind us of how gentle, caring and in control the real Jesus is. But “Kitsch Jesus” has a problem: he is all glory without grit, all victory without pain, all resurrection without crucifixion.

Yes, Christians believe in a glorious, victorious, resurrected Christ who brings light and peace and joy into our lives. But our redemption comes by way of His crucifixion. While “Kitsch Jesus” wanders the web without a care or fear, the real Jesus sweat drops of blood (Luke 22:44). While “Kitsch Jesus” strokes his little lambs, the real Jesus had His back slashed with whips (Matthew 27:26). While “Kitsch Jesus” holds out his soft, clean hands, the real Jesus retains the scars from His ordeal even after His resurrection (John 20:27).

“Kitsch Jesus” sidesteps the crucifixion part of Jesus’ life, proclaiming a pain-free faith in a Jesus without scars. But remember: the resurrected Jesus has nail marks in His hands. He’s our Lord in suffering and victory.

—Sheridan Voysey

365-day-plan: Daniel 2:1-24

In a way, Jesus still suffers today. Read Acts 9:4-5 to see how. 
Why is “Kitsch Jesus” so popular? What’s the real problem with such incomplete images of Jesus?