I’ve got a problem and it keep reoccurring. It happened again recently. Somebody sends me a message asking: “Where’s Jesus?”
I’ve got no Jesus to give them. I weakly suggest Aquilla, or Paul, or Joseph, or even one of the bit characters from the crafts. But ultimately I just don’t have a graphic with the name tag Jesus.
I create resources for the children to connect to the humans in them, the real, weak, ordinary lives that God changed. In order to make these heroes the focus I always left out Jesus. It seemed a good idea when I set out. Yet I understand why some crafts feel incomplete without a Jesus character. So why not just draw one? Well, because, if I’m honest, drawing Jesus scares me.
I grew up on predictable images of Jesus, his brown beard and while tunic, the knowing smile, piercing blue eyes and porcelain skin. As I got older I walked away from that Jesus, the one who sat on grass, waded through water, had no bed to call his own and yet always seemed pristine. I saw Jesus in the lives of others around me, saw glimpses of his face through the teenage spots and wrinkles. I discovered Namaste – to bow to the God I see in his people, even the one in the mirror. I learnt ‘Jesus lives’ through his presence in people, not through words and pictures on paper. But equally I recognise those image stereotypes are deeply set and breaking them could be unhelpful or even confusing for some children.
So I stare at blank outlines and wonder… How do I draw a character so like those around him and yet so obviously different? Is he even distinguishable, or so ordinary he almost fades into the background? Do I give him a chisel, a staff or does he hold no object at all? Is he scruffy or well presented? Do I follow the stereotypes or challenge them? How do I even start to place one so human and yet so divine into a single cartoon style image?
And so, I ask you to bear with me. This scribbled out character is a very, very generic ‘Jesus like figure’ – but if you click on his image you can see him minus the green marker. He’s here for those of you who ‘need’ one, I’m not sure if I’ll ever use it, but perhaps it can be part of the answer, for now?