How many Christians understand Jesus’ teachings?

Take a moment to review this painting (click for slightly larger version):

Servant to the World

How does it strike you? Do you see it as an expression of Truth, or do you feel the artist was sorely mistaken? If you’re Christian, are you offended? In my opinion, one’s opinion of this painting is a good litmus test of how well one understands Jesus’ message, and the story of this painting is proof that many who claim to be followers of Jesus don’t.

First, let’s cover the painting itself. It was created by Lars Justinen of the Justinen Creative Group, having been commissioned by Heavenly Sanctuary to publicize their conferences on the character of God. It shows various people with great influence in the world (l-to-r: German Chancellor Angela Merkel; Tony Blair, UK; Kofi A. Annan, UN; Osama bin Laden; George Bush; Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh; and Jiang Zemin, former president of China) seated in a line with Jesus kneeling before them, washing the feet of Kofi Annan.

According to the forum thread at Heavenly Sanctuary and Greg Boyd at Random Reflections, Heavenly Sanctuary had a $4000 advertising contract with several malls in the Portland area to display the posters for a month and they had a contract tenative agreement pending review of advertising with Warner Pacific College to provide the venue for their conference. The posters went up, there was an outrage, the posters came down within 24 hours (with no explanation and no refund) and the so-called Christian college canceled did not agree to the venue rental contract.

Now this isn’t about the story which, if true, shows the outright theft of $4000 by the advertising company which services several shopping malls (list of malls from Lloyd Center, Clackamas Town Center, Cedar Hills Crossing, Mall 205, the Columbia Gorge Outlet stores and Salem’s Lancaster Mall). I’m sure a couple of phone calls from a well known lawyer or even a TV station “On Your Side” style production would fix that up in short order. [Update: I hear from a HS representative that they are indeed currently expecting a refund]

Neither is it about the idea that a “Christian” college which claims to foster critical thinking skills and help prepare students to live in a world of paradox by encouraging them to consider their world from different perspectives” thought the above poster presented a “different perspective” so dangerous that it justified breaking a covenant refusing to rent their facilities to HS. By their fruits shall they be known, and here’s a college board which claims to be Christian and breaks their promises in the same breath yet misses the entire point of Jesus’ message. I infer they teach that salvation is by faith/grace alone foolishness too. It comes as no surprise that HS had to find a secular venue, the Portland Convention Center, that understood the difference between renting a room and endorsing a message. [Update: the strikeouts in the preceeding paragraphs are due to receiving more reliable information, after this post was written, that while the College had indeed agreed to rent their venue, the actual contract was pending their satisfactory review of HS's conference advertising. They didn't like the poster, so no contract was ever signed. Many thanks to Stacie at HS for getting me straight here.]

The college’s reaction brings us to the main point: the public outrage. The public outrage isn’t about feminist complaints that Angela’s spike heels demean her as a woman or the political complaints that Osama is seated next to GW Bush. It’s not about the opposite political issue: the suspension of disbelief it takes to believe that Osama and Bush could be seated that close without Bush begging to demonstrate his superior skills at fellatio…although it is noted that Blair is looking over in that direction, evidently wishing he was sitting next to Bush instead. No, the outrage is from so-called Christians themselves, people who claim to be Christian but in their quest to toss around Bible verses manage to miss the entire point of His incarnation. I found a good example of such mind-numbing idiocy at The Jawa Report:

Sorry, I aint that kind of Christian. My Jesus would use nunchucks on Osama bin Laden. Or maybe rip his still beating heart out, Temple of Doom style.

Scientists have a saying when they encounter far-fetched theories based on wildly incorrect ideas; it’s referred to as being not even wrong. This is a good example. The listed author of that post, Dr. Rusty Shackleford, needs to spend less time with the exciting Hollywood action movies and more time with the relevant words of Jesus in the Bible. It doesn’t even matter which version, either; even the worst translations easily show that the person quoted above effectively denies Jesus’ teachings. Oh that’s right, most Christianity has nothing to do with Jesus’ teachings, does it? Herod could have succeeded in killing Jesus as a baby and, with the exception of what Pilate allowed to happen to Him, it’d not change Christian creeds by one single word. Christians simply don’t include Jesus’ actual ministry in their statements of what they believe.

Despite the sad ignorance displayed by many of the comments on the aforementioned blog posting, there was a true gem:

To me that picture illustrates deep christian magic. Contrary to what some may think, it does not glorify the people getting the foot wash. The fact that their feet are being washed says nothing about their virtue. On the contrary, it glorifies the foot washer. It is a picture of deep humility and inner strength, the kind of strength that would allow someone so awesome to remain humble at the feet of what we can all agree are worldly scumbags. Essentially, that is a deeply illustrative picture of Jesus’s sacrificial love for a very unlovable mankind. There is nothing to be offended about in that picture if you look at it that way. In fact it is quite awesome in my book. That is deep magic, the kind Jesus tried so hard to teach folks about but we just refuse to get it because it goes against our sinful nature.

I quoted the only complete bit of Truth I found in that dung heap so you won’t have to read the comment thread yourself. Seriously, reading it will be painful to anyone with a functional brain, and will make you tremble in fear for our country’s future. It does serve, however, as yet another example of the failure of our educational system to teach basic literacy, logic, and critical thinking skills.

As I mentioned earlier, this painting serves well as a litmus test for detecting false prophets. Actually, it’s more like a paternity test than a litmus test as it doesn’t prove you know what you’re talking about but it can definitively prove that you don’t. The next time you see someone loudly proclaiming their Christianity, show them this painting and ask ‘em what they think. If it repulses them, and especially if they start tossing out Bible verses to “prove” that it’s wrong or somehow blasphemous, walk away. Quickly. If you’re Christian, make sure that their public spewings are publicly refuted. They don’t know Jesus, they don’t understand even the basics of His message, and anybody listening to them will be seriously mislead if the crapola is allowed to stand unchallenged. This is the type of false preaching that serves only to smear the reputation of Christians in general and is wholly responsible for the creation of the angry/militant type of atheist that we see so much of today.

Greg Boyd’s post shows that he has a clue, as does The Bible Blogger and Ochuk. Emily McGowin’s post deserves the blogger’s hat-tip here, and her response to one of her misguided commentators left me in awe of her spiritual-fu, and shows me where I need serious improvement. Personally, I have incredible difficulty showing that much consideration to people who go as far as re-defining the word “enemy” just so some troublesome Bible verse can be twisted to provide justification for a warped and ignorant idea.

If you really like the depiction, you can get your very own poster at Heavenly Sanctuary’s store.

82 Responses to “How many Christians understand Jesus’ teachings?”

  1. John Rohan Says:

    Generally, I agree with what you say here, but you need to understand two things:

    1) The other leaders are probably ok, but displaying a prominent picture of Osama Bin Laden is likely be rejected by anyone in the US. Even if the scene in the painting portrays Christian values, his face is considered extremely offensive. Is that so surprising? Turn this around; what if someone gave you an identical painting except that Hitler was sitting in Bin Laden’s place. Would you want it on your wall at home?

    2) The Jesus/nunchuck comment from Jawa Report was likely an attempt at humor. I can’t believe you took that so seriously.

  2. Emily Hunter McGowin Says:

    This is great coverage of the controversy. And, I particularly like your theory that this picture is a way of discerning false prophets. I think you nailed the problem when you say that Christians don’t include Jesus’ ministry in statements of what they believe. It didn’t strike me until you said it this way how very scary this is. We think we’ve got it covered what to believe, but by ignoring Jesus’ life and ministry, we’ve lost how to live. God help us.

    BTW: What’s spiritual-fu? My response to that blogger did not mean that I didn’t want to be nasty in return, only that I chose to censor myself, less for my benefit and more for his.

  3. Chris No Says:

    I really loved this post, and am passing it along to a number of friends, atheist and Christian alike. But, c’mon, dude. Expressing your dislike of political leaders by implying that they’re gay/fellaters? How can this third grade message sit right with your otherwise reasonable post? Must I note that Jesus never said anything against homosexuals? Or do you, too, not recall Jesus’ teachings (and what he didn’t teach as well)?

  4. Ally Kendall Says:

    You seem to want to slay all those who mispronounce your shibboleth, but I think you might be speaking with a regional accent of your own: When Jesus taught service, he didn’t teach service to the “spawn of Satan”, as he called them, but to the kingdom of God, which is in all those who love God and are called according to His purpose. If someone warps and twists the truth to serve a different God (self, for example), lacking even the decency to lie forthrightly, isn’t that despicable? The more so if they believe what they espouse, for then the father of lies is truly manifest in them.

    From my point of view, if I serve Mssrs. Anan or bin Laden or Bush or Zemin, it is only because I am compelled in that instance to humbly recognize that I do not know the mysteries of their calling. But in the normal course of events, I am their enemy, because I serve a God of truth, justice, love and mercy, and there is no peace between truth and lies, between justice and injustice, between love and hatred, between mercy and brutality. It is only because I know my own fallibility that righteous indignation is restrained from violence in the normal course of events. (Well, that and explicit general revelation.) Otherwise, I would defend the defenseless by whatever means necessary.

    It’s important to remember that the incarnation of Christ was just one phase in an ongoing revelation of God to humankind. In a forthcoming phase, the hills melt like wax at the coming of the Lord, as he comes to judge the quick and the dead. Red letters are beautiful, and it is of crucial, central importance to realize, to live, every blood-bought word, but they don’t tell the whole story.

  5. Shawn Says:

    “The other leaders are probably ok, but displaying a prominent picture of Osama Bin Laden is likely be rejected by anyone in the US. Even if the scene in the painting portrays Christian values, his face is considered extremely offensive. Is that so surprising? Turn this around; what if someone gave you an identical painting except that Hitler was sitting in Bin Laden’s place. Would you want it on your wall at home?”

    That’s Jesus’ message… you’re still not getting it.


    Pain and Suffering

    HUMAN sin

  6. tsykoduk Says:


    says the Atheist/Buddhist/Agnostic.


  7. Randal McNelson Says:


    >>2) The Jesus/nunchuck comment from Jawa Report was likely an attempt at humor. I can’t believe you took that so seriously.

    I doubt it, Dave. I’ve actually MET people like that. But don’t take my word for it, read the Jawa Report entry. That quote is a witticism, but it sums up the author’s point. Bin Laden is a symbol of evil, not from a universally moral perspective, but from a perspective of Nationalism. Otherwise, the report would have also mentioned outrage at forgiving George Bush. Far more innocents have died in the bombing of Iraq than in the collapse of the trade towers. But we justify this under the category of “war”. The word is not “murder victim”, it is the clinical “casualty”. The Jesus of the Jawa Report is a Jesus who rides on the steed of America, and favors her. This is so contrary to the words and teachings of Christ as to be insane.

    That being said, it is especially significant for Americans that Osama Bin Laden is on the painting. The point of Christ’s message of humility and love is that he would go that far. He would go much, much farther.

  8. DBruce Says:

    What immediately struck me about this picture was the parallel to Jesus washing his disciples feet.

    There is a problem here - those people in the chairs are not disciples, so that parallel is incomplete, mis-construed, and likely offensive to many.

    Jesus did not wash the feet of the pharisees who were trying to kill them. He washed the feet of his disciples to teach them to serve each other in humility.

    Now, to be sure, Jesus death was for ALL, and that includes the salvation of Bin Laden, if he was to turn to Christ. Maybe that is what this image is trying to portray, but using the foot-washing image is a misguided way of doing so, in my opinion.

  9. cbr Says:

    Talking to a christian sitting next to me, a problem with the picture is that it appears to map the world leaders to the deciples of jesus. If one believes strongly that many or all of these leaders do not reflect jesus’s teachings in their actions, then what is offensive is the apparent claim of the image that they do.

  10. Mike Says:

    So do all these leaders call Jesus “teacher” and “Lord”? If not, then the painting really isn’t relevant to anything.

  11. piile Says:

    Where do you think Jesus is all love and compassion? For every passage in the bible of that nature, you can find a dozen others where he and god mandate everything from genocide to murdering people who don’t listen to priests or pick up sticks on Sunday. The most obvious of these passages is the infamous Matt 10:24 where Jesus clearly says he’s not into peace, but violence.

    Jeremiah 17:4: Ye have kindled a fire in mine anger, which shall burn forever.

    The point I’m making is that christian scripture can be interpreted to mean anything, so anyone claiming they have any idea of what a “true christian” epitomizes is fooling themselves even more.

  12. Jack Mott Says:

    This was a good read and a well thought out post, I thank you for it.

    What if you apply your obviously functioning brain and critical thinking skills further, though. Yes, some people don’t understand Jesus’ message, obviously. But, was Jesus really the son of God, is there really a God at all, in the sense we imagine there is? The message is worth understanding but I think it harms us all to believe that it came from Heaven rather than the minds of men.

  13. Mike Judge Says:

    Rusty Shackleford is an alias used by the character Dale Gribble on ‘King of the Kill’ - an animated TV show about a small town in Texas. I just thought that was funny, and that the quote used might have been intentionally sarcastic.

  14. Michael Says:

    This is exactly the ‘christ’mas message and nothing more or less. Jesus died to save the children of Adam, and seated in that picture are currently accepted focal objects of hatred…and veneration, another ridiculous paradigm which begs shifting…but I digress…Bin Laden, Bush &al are children of mothers like us, made in God’s image, and those are who God came to preach to, heal and save.

    We want an icon desperately and yet we already have one - the betoweled foot-washing Man.

    We want to worship a human being and we were given one - the ultimate servant - and yet we think that this or that political process is our god.

    I thank God for a brash, daring and sane image being produced. This preaches to the unconverted, Christian and non-Christian alike.

    May we all live up to the standard set at that last meal 2000 years ago.

  15. mgroves Says:

    I’ve seen much more offensive art involving Jesus.

    This art isn’t offensive, so much as it is provocative. While I don’t necessarily agree with your interpretation or opinions, it’s not a piece that would throw me into an uproar either (and I am a Christian).

  16. Greg Says:

    >> here is a problem here - those people in the chairs are not disciples, so that parallel is incomplete, mis-construed, and likely offensive to many.

    >> …a problem with the picture is that it appears to map the world leaders to the deciples of jesus.

    Be careful here. This is actually a compelling comparison. The disciples claimed to be followers of Jesus, but were often a misguided lot. Look at Thomas in his doubt, Peter in his denial, and Judas in his betrayal. Every world leader likewise claims to be working for the greater good, and most would claim to hold to the teachings of Jesus. Even Bin Laden being Muslim has a high regard for Jesus as a prophet. There’s less difference than you think, other than that the disciples knew Jesus in his earthly ministry and had their feet washed by Him.

    >> …likely offensive to many.

    This makes me want to vomit. If people’s sensibilities are so fragile they can’t accept this facet of Jesus’s teachings, then they have issues they need to work through themselves.

  17. Walther Says:

    @Mike: Actually, that is exactly why the painting is relevant. A true Christian will be just as humble in front of those who persecute him/her as they would in front of a fellow Christian.

    @piile: Matt 10:24: “A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master”, what does that have to do with Peace?. As for the quote from Jeremiah, that is speaking about God (not Jesus). Jesus’ death essentially wiped the slate clean for us.

    To me, the image shows how Christians should live.

  18. Manmohan Singh Says:

    Please don’t include “Manmohan Singh” in a list of “worldly scumbags”.

  19. Brandon Hammonds Says:

    Scientists also have a term for posts this high on the awesome scale: “baaalllllliiiin.”

  20. Dwayne Says:

    FWIW, I posted this on our religious discussion forum. Frankly, the forum is the most level headed religious discussion forum I have ever seen.

    Here goes:

    The time we see Jesus washing other’s feet in scripture is the washing of the disciple’s feet at the last supper. This act of servant leadership is of pivitol importance within orthodoxy because of the nature of the foot washing. The picture from scripture, as I see servant leadership, and specifically Jesus’ foot washing, is that of humility among people who would otherwise esteem him. It is the idea that while those who follow Christ would like a strong dictator at times, servanthood is true leadership. My initial problem with the picture is that we never see Jesus treating those whom he considered “enemies” with that kind of humility. We never see Jesus washing the pharisee’s feet.

    We are left with two problems then. Should the people depicted be considered Jesus’ enemies? and if so, how would they be treated. Jesus seemed to have one beef with people, and that was the religious right. He took very serious the degradation of the temple (remember the whip) and the false religious bigotry that Jews at the time, seemed so fond of. These are the examples we see of Jesus getting “angry”. I cannot say that anyone in the picture fits that bill, and I hardly think that Jesus would “rip [their] still beating heart out, Temple of Doom style.” That’s just asinine. Jesus’ other traits however (his compassion for people who are hurting, his care for the innocent) would make me doubt that he would consider some of the people in the picture his followers. That being the case, I see the servant leadership humility of foot washing to be out of place for this picture. Jesus washed the feet of his closest followers, not Herod or Pilot.

    Jesus would have treated then with the same compassion and care as any other “none-followers” (for lack of a better term) of Jesus. He would treat them kindly, love them, even give himself to them through acts of service. So my only real problem with the picture is the use of foot washing. There is a deep and powerful meaning behind that act that, IMO does not apply well to this politically charged poster. That said, the reaction on the part of those involved, and certainly the comments the article references at the end, do seem to prove the point. Many Christians do not understand Jesus’ teachings.

    I agree with the sentiment of the second quote (about Christ’s deep magic). That Jesus does not get spoken about nearly enough.

  21. Kenneth Gutierrez Says:

    Thank you. Keep up the good work.

  22. Michael Says:

    “Christians simply don’t include Jesus’ actual ministry in their statements of what they believe in.”

    “believe in” or “believe?”

    [Lon: corrected, thanks!]

  23. Mike’s Weblog » Fake Jesus' Says:

    [...] Today comes this gem (via this post). [...]

  24. Paul Says:

    I can speak from experience as someone who immersed themselves in the full spiritual experience of Jesus and his teachings for the past four years, embraced the Christian right for a time and then had to break back out of that bonding as God continued to reveal Himself to my inner being in ways that demanded that I expand my sense of who He was. That I personally had to see Him beyond judgment and as unconditional love. But he showed Himself to me through the medium of the Christian right and the people in it. I think I just happened to have some inner radar that led me to the best people in it and away from the narrow part of it.
    Eg. through it I found out about Heidi Baker in Mozambique….an amazing lover of Jesus and believes very strongly on the surface as most Christian right folks…but she has touched the essence and love has become the dominant force in her life and touched millions of others.

    I must say that unless you’ve been there, you can’t understand the whole picture and why people react as they do.
    I can try to explain it, but I wonder if it would do any good. I don’t agree with them any more…totally on the other side of things from the James Dobson’s of the world in most areas, but I do understand deeply the fierce tenacity they have based on a personal experience of a higher love in the face of a dark world.
    I would say they haven’t gone big enough in their understanding but I certainly won’t condemn them as deep down I believe they care deeply about supporting that which is good and true and pure in all life.

    I would just say they haven’t gone far enough in understanding how God/we can best effect change in dealing with things we don’t like and that this gets back to Jesus’ true message, as you say in the article.

    It also calls upon us all to get beyond narrow survivalist thinking in general, which is the next step we all must make on this planet.

    Jesus is great and knowing him is great…narrow thinking abounds in all areas of society. We should carefully separate the two lest we do the whole baby bathwater thing again.
    I advise everyone to pass sincerely through the true exploration of the Christian faith as I have felt led to do and let yourself be led to that which is the highest and best for you. It is such a deep, deep part of our culture that I believe we all need to see what all the fuss is about from the ‘inside’ before we can really say what it’s all about.

  25. Stuart Says:

    Loved the posting and I only have one minor comment that has nothing to do with the theme.

    Please don’t label Tony Blair as England - he was the UK or British prime minister. That includes Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England. It’d be like me saying George Bush was California or Texas and ignoring all the other states.

  26. Dj Says:

    As a minister reading this blog, Im both shocked and not-so-shocked at some of the comments and reactions of other believers in response to this picture. I looked at it and instantly felt pity for myself because I often find myself thinking evil thoughts against some of the people featured in my own life. It made me feel that yes, Jesus loves them regardless of what they have done.

    I see some of the EXCUSES people are coming up with to discredit this painting and they’re absolutely full of it. Things like: “Well, they aren’t his disciples…” etc…Point is, he died for the sins of all (see John 3:16, 1st Peter 3:18, various others in case you don’t believe me). To me, suffering and dying on a cross is a much greater act of service than the washing of feet depicted in this painting. I don’t get what the issue is other than a personal issue of the heart from believers.

    I might add that Jesus washed the feet of Judas fully knowing that he was going to betray him.

    Ugh…when will we ‘get it’? Sorry everyone, we have a few crazy nuts that don’t like to ‘love their neighbor as themselves’.

  27. not_kurt Says:

    DBruce said it best:

    “What immediately struck me about this picture was the parallel to Jesus washing his disciples feet.

    “There is a problem here - those people in the chairs are not disciples, so that parallel is incomplete, mis-construed, and likely offensive to many.

    “Jesus did not wash the feet of the pharisees who were trying to kill them. He washed the feet of his disciples to teach them to serve each other in humility.

    Now, to be sure, Jesus death was for ALL, and that includes the salvation of Bin Laden, if he was to turn to Christ. Maybe that is what this image is trying to portray, but using the foot-washing image is a misguided way of doing so, in my opinion.”

  28. Bruce Arnold » How many Christians understand Jesus’ teaching? Says:

    [...] clipped from [...]

  29. jeff Says:

    what i get out of this picture is that jesus loves everyone.

    and stuff like that

  30. John-Riley Harper Says:

    Thank you for making this painting known to me. I think it is a wonderful political message and needs to be discussed.

    That being said, I think it’s very interesting that you celebrate Emily McGowin’s post, for which you tip your blogger hat for her response to “one of her misguided commentators.” I took your bait, followed the link and read the relevant comments, which lead to my making quite a different interpretation. I think AmeBenit’s (the misguided commentator) was quite right, and I owe this agreement to a recent reading of David Sloan Wilson’s “Darwin’s Cathedral.” Jesus’s teachings were not directed at the human mass as a whole, but treated certain enclave. If you are interested, try reading around page 133 - 140 to find out about how early Jewish and Christian ethics did indeed work to separate and customize appropriate behavior toward various groups, the in or the out.

    My own response: It’s important not to take the character of Jesus as an isolated unit. His character was used as a tool in many ways, and we can’t forget that. Any teaching can be subverted, no matter how revolutionary. So, even if Jesus taught certain, incredibly altruistic things, his teachings were comandeered by organizations that grew mighty and powerful and used his teachings in ways that benefitted themselves. They could pick and choose and use what furthered their own ideals. Jesus isn’t as relevant to these religions as we make him out to be.

  31. tufftugg Says:

    I love the poster…the arrogance of the writer in the above article is a little much, of course to stand in the presents of the spiritual elite is like that!

    Isaiah 58:9
    Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, THE PUTTING FORTH OF THE FINGER, and speaking vanity;

    just add it to the dung list of yours

  32. Jeremy Says:

    How many Christians posting about the lack of understanding of doctrine actually understand the themselves?

    When Jesus washed the feet of His apostles it symbolized that he who was greatest would serve those over whom he ruled. If jesus washed your feet then he was saying that your submission to be his servant was accepted, your sins were forgiven. I believe he washed the feet of the apostles after Judas Iscariot left. He would not wash the feet of one who was unwilling to accept and follow him. I will not judge whether or not Osama Bin Laden will accept Jesus, or even be given the chance. But if I had to put money down on guess I’d definately go with a no.

    Jesus is not a lovey dovey cuddle friend that many like to think he is. There are consequences for not accepting him and obeying his commandments. What happend to the fig tree?

    If you don’t know that then go read your bible.

  33. HippieGirl Says:

    Maybe it’s just that not many people are familiar with the Northwest. Or, perhaps people relate to Seattle better because of Grey’s Anatomy. In either case, the malls, tv station and school listed are in the Portland, Oregon area. Although mostly a tolerant community, the intolerant are out-spoken to a fault.

  34. Nick Says:

    Great assesment of the current state of Christianity. I am a believer and I couldn’t agree with you more. Somehow we have forgotten that Christ, who was in his very nature God, made himself nothing to take on the nature of a servant.

    Thanks for shining a light on this Lon.

  35. prunes Says:

    To me, the image shows how Christians should live.

    This is CLEARLY the intention.

    We would all like to find reasons not to do so, because it is hard, and we are very fond of our little hates and righteous indignation.

    Nevertheless, anyone claiming to be a ‘Christian’ (literally ‘little Christ’) should be striving to personally adopt this attitude.

  36. GediminAs Says:

    What’s all the hoopla about, is a painting so strong to rattle your personal sensibilities? If it is, and you’re reaction is of anger and outrage, how strong could your sensibilities be? Especially if your intention is to promote the belief in Jesus and his “teachings”, which, as I understand them, were essentially about being decent to one another as we are all God’s children. I’m glad art still does this to people, it’s a good thing to query art and its meaning.

    That being said, I have no personal evidence to the existence of God or that the Bible isn’t just a handbook on how to get by as a human. So for me, and I’m sure other agnostics, the impact is fruitless. But I definitely felt something reading the reactions to this piece. Not religious or anything, just, you know… interested.

  37. The Nortons » Blog Archive » How many Christians understand Jesus’ teachings? Says:

    [...] regarding this picture: No, the outrage is from so-called Christians themselves, people who claim [...]

  38. Ariel Says:

    I was immediately struck by the power of this image, and its relevance. Many comments have been made in this forum about those whose feet were washed by Christ being His disciples, and to a degree, I agree. Yes, at the last supper, Jesus washed the feet of the twelve. I think we can all agree that it was a powerfully symbolic act.

    Yes, there are some people represented in this image that I would have a hard time sitting down to supper with. As an American, dining with Osama would make me feel unclean. Having said this, Christ went out of His way to approach those who were considered unclean by the standards of the day. Touching a leper at the time would make a Jew ritually unclean; as would touching a woman on her menstrual cycle. Jesus healed lepers, as well as a woman who had (depending on your translation) “a flow of blood for twelve years” (Mark 5:25 NKJV)

    He did these things to show us how we were to behave… even when it meant dining with someone that others of your clan would have nothing to do with. He lunched with tax collectors and other undesirables, and showed them about the Father’s love.

    Christ’s message is one of love and forgiveness, of healing and cleansing. Did He know full well that He’d be looked down upon for associating with that kind of riffraff? Of course! But He, of all people, came to set an example.

    If the Son of God can accept one who had been going around killing His followers and make him a disciple (Saul/Paul) then we, as followers of Christ, would do well to seek peace with those who wound us.

  39. DBruce Says:

    Response to GREG

    # Greg Says:
    December 12th, 2007 at 2:34 pm

    >> here is a problem here - those people in the chairs are not disciples, so that parallel is incomplete, mis-construed, and likely offensive to many.

    Be careful here. This is actually a compelling comparison. The disciples claimed to be followers of Jesus, but were often a misguided lot. Look at Thomas in his doubt, Peter in his denial, and Judas in his betrayal. Every world leader likewise claims to be working for the greater good, and most would claim to hold to the teachings of Jesus. Even Bin Laden being Muslim has a high regard for Jesus as a prophet. There’s less difference than you think, other than that the disciples knew Jesus in his earthly ministry and had their feet washed by Him.

    DBruce: Uh, Greg. The disciples didn’t just claim to follow Jesus (excluding Judas). In spite of mistakes, they followed Him to their deaths. While world leaders claim to be “working for the greater good” that does not equate with following Jesus. Not ever close. Bin Laden regarding Jesus as a prophet isn’t even close to the regard his disciples (those whose feel were washed) had for Jesus. They believed Jesus was God in the flesh - pretty serious stuff. World Leaders do not equal Christ Followers, unless you deny His claim to deity. And if you do, fine, but that is where the comparison for many who accept His deity breaks down.

    >> …likely offensive to many.

    This makes me want to vomit. If people’s sensibilities are so fragile they can’t accept this facet of Jesus’s teachings, then they have issues they need to work through themselves.

    DBRUCE: As I commented above, the offensive is likely due to the view of Jesus’ Deity and the meaning of footwashing in particular. I wouldn’t accuse anyone of having fragile sensibilities over this.


    How about Jesus on the cross saying “Father, forgiven them, as they no not what they do”, and you have those world leaders standing around watching him die

  40. Joey Says:

    Wow, there is alot of opinions going around here. You know what I think though? I think the painting is great, first off. But look at it this way, if Jesus was really just Buddha, the painting makes even more sense

  41. Gordon Robbins Says:

    Thanks for a great article. I don’t think the apostles were not the only ones that had their feet washed by Jesus during his lifetime. Jesus does not just show love or compassion to those who liked or loved him. His teachings about turning the other cheek, being the least, et al show me that he would have demonstrated humble service of love in this manner.

    Is he being pressed into military service in this picture, in camo gear, blowing away the enemies of one or some of those leaders? No. Is he lifting them up, or saying that everyone should follow them? No. What Jesus IS doing here is a very personal thing, washing their feet. This is compassion and love on a personal level. And at that level, I believe Jesus would even wash Hitler’s or Jeffrey Dahmer’s feet, if he thought the message would get through.

  42. SeismicMike Says:

    This is a sad story indeed. I agree whole heartedly with this painting. If those people were lined up there, Jesus would have washed their feet. “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve…” Even though he may not have agreed with some or all of them, he would still love them and be willing to serve them. After all, Jesus washed the feet of Judas, the one who was to betray him, and Jesus already knew he was going to do it.

    The Christian message is about redeeming this world from the effects of man’s sin. One of those effects is the eternal spiritual death that we all incurred and thus leads to hell, from which we can only be saved by fath, etc. Yes yes. But it’s not limited to that. There are countless social ills that plague society world wide that Jesus wanted us to confront. And that confrontation should not be divided along any lines - Jew/Gentile, Man/Woman, Christian/Buddhist/Atheist, Black/White, Slave/Free, etc.

    It is truly sad when Christians focus so hard on the first that they miss the second. Jesus spoke as much if not more about the poor than he did about heaven and hell. Christians have forgotten what service means. “whoever would be first among you must be slave of ALL.”

  43. The New Pharisees « Lest I Forget Says:

    [...] New Pharisees I managed to stumble across this on a typically very atheistic [...]

  44. Ken Says:

    The real story here is Jesus’ teachings of humility, compasion, and servanthood for all mankind, not just those that loved him.

    The parrallel’s with the disciples hey if that bothers you then hey each to their own I suppose.

    Whether this painting is right wrong or indifferent, wouldn’t the world be better if we served each other with humility and compassion?

    I think it would be far better than a great many things we do to each other.

  45. Consider Says:

    I am glad that there are Christians who still can reason independently. It seems all we see these days are “those who give the rest of us a bad name”. You reasonable Christians should get out there more and spread some of your reason to those fear and war mongers who despoil your religion every day. And they’d be more likely to listen to a fellow Christian who speaks reason then someone who isn’t.

    But now I must ask you to consider this. There is no empirical, observable evidence that any particular denomination or religion is correct and the others are false. They are all equal in this regard, and equal as well to any speculation one could imagine, like the flying spaghetti monster or extraterrestrial design. Equal in that they are all possible, but just one unprovable possibility amongst many. There simply is no way to know what is true in this regard. To claim to know that one is true is to lie, because it’s impossible. One may claim they “just know it” or “have to take it one faith” but that means nothing. Anything CAN be taken on faith but it makes it no less likely or unlikely. Atheists are often the same, they claim to know that there is no god. Impossible! They have no more right to lie in this way then theists. I apologize if my use of the word lie is offensive to anyone, it isn’t intended to be an offense, people lie unintentionally all the time. A lie is just saying something, anything that contradicts the truth. And since we can’t know truths other then what we can observe with our own eyes and senses, everyone winds up lying, intentionally or otherwise, at many points in there life.

    I implore you to consider the dangers of at refusing to at least consider the possibility that you just don’t know what’s actually going on. Isn’t that the ultimate humility? To claim that ourselves or other men know the ultimate truths of the universe when our actions clearly indicate we know very little about anything is mighty presumptuous. Actions like killing our fellow men over worldly things. Even people who kill in the name of Christianity, I think we’d all agree, are actually killing over worldly things. Power, self-disillusionment, wealth, security of person or mind.

    You might say I believe nothing. That would be untrue though. I believe in probabilities. I believe there is a very high probability the sun will rise tomorrow because I’ve seen it do it reliably every day over the course of my entire life. I believe there’s an equal chance that Christianity and Islam are correct. I believe that there’s an equal chance that Christianity almost had it right but they made just one mistake, King Solomon was actually a purple alien from planet H143. They all have an equal amount of supporting evidence.

    Disagree with me? Do some research, find all the evidence supporting your religion and then find all the evidence supporting other religions, cults, ideologies, political systems, whatever, anything that operates on the principle of faith. After all, if there really WAS any conclusive evidence that Christians could point to and say “see, God is real and our interpretation is correct, conclusively” then there wouldn’t be any need for faith, would there?

    I never have to worry about whether or not my faith is real or not because I only believe things that I KNOW are real due to by direct observations. And through those observations I have come to a wonderful, grounded understanding of the universe: that I don’t, can’t and that’s ok. I have no reason to fear anything anymore, no reason to suffer, and no reason to abide suffering in others. I can focus on helping people because I would like to live in a world where people treat each other kindly, not because some divine entity told me I should. I have seen the suffering that comes from the intellectual insecurity that comes from accepting a religious faith. There can be no stability when there is no foundation in fact. You will always wonder, there will always be doubt, and rightly so. And if there isn’t doubt at all… god help you. There is no reason there should not be doubt when there is no supporting evidence. That insecurity and doubt is what drives what would otherwise be good religious folk to do terrible things. To kill infidels and non-believers, because they are so insecure in their own beliefs.

    Sorry this was kind of winded and might seem irrelevant to the thread at hand but reason and honest discussion is always relevant and needed. I hope I did not offend anyone too much, just, please at least think about what I’ve said and look around at the world and imagine you had never heard of the bible before and just start observing it for what it is. At least give it a chance, then at least you can feel more confident in your faith if you do wind up returning to it.

  46. Ani George Says:

    Wasn’t offended at all. In fact what offends me is the Christian who thinks it impossible for Christ to yet again show such humility and humbleness sorely missing in the ‘Prosperity Christianity’ the world and Christians have come to accept as ‘the truth’

    If only people loved God more than the display of their stained glass faith.

    We’ve been doctrined by man not God. Man has interpreted to his own comfort and for his own power over other men. Look at the number of denominations amongst Christians all splintered and fractured and like lost sheep bleating incoherently!

    All roads lead back to God. As much as we would like to think declaring ourselves Christian makes us better than anyone else, I think then you are no better than one who does not acknowledge God in any form, be it a Muslim Allah, a Christian God, a Jewish Yahweh, or the teachings of Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Baha’ism

    God is one, MAN and man alone has created so many many variables and then we insult the image and purity and love of God by forcing others to kowtow and adhere to our human interpretations …

    If anyone is offended by this piece of art, then (s)he has not grasped the teachings of our Jewish Christ the founder of the Christian faith. Drop your pretenses and live by the word of God and the teachings and humble works of Christ and the Holy Spirit will burn strong in you who is created in the image of God.

  47. garo Says:

    I second HippieGirl: all of the locations mentioned in the story are in the Portland, Oregon area.

  48. Imago Dei » Blog Archive » What Would Jesus Do? Says:

    [...] found this painting [...]

  49. Ally Kendall Says:

    Saying that Jesus died for all is oversimplification. Many will say “did we not do great works in your name?”, to whom He will say “away from me; I never knew you.” As many as refuse His great mercy will die in their evil, self-condemned. There’s nothing you or I can do about that, no matter how hard we wish. It’s their freedom.

    The real enemy is the deciever of souls. But should I sit idly by while my sister is raped, my brother tortured, if I am able to stop it? If so, I should be complicit in these crimes, and my contempt for my brother, my sister would be made plain. I cannot strike down the deciever of souls. But on occasion I may be called to strike down the rapist, the torturer. It’s not something to be desired, but it is not something to be cowardly shirked.

  50. Salt on Everything » Blog Archive » Would your Jesus clean the feet of Osama? Says:

    [...] come by way of The Blog of Lon, in an interesting article about Christians and the many versions of the “Truth” they [...]

  51. Jimmy Compton Says:

    If anyone can agree that God exists and that they follow His teachings, then by His teachings they should know that He is all knowing and powerful. We can then say that Jesus, according to those same teachings, knew everything. Indeed, Jesus predicted his own betrayal by Judas Iscariot.

    If you know someone is going to betray you and cause you to be killed, would you consider that person your enemy or your friend? Regardless of how Jesus might have personally felt about Judas, he chose to love him in action (because love is more than a feeling, loving someone is an action, based on how you treat the person) and be his servant knowing that Judas would be responsible for his death one day.

    Jesus had more than 12 disciples, there were many people who followed him. Out of all he chose 12 of them to be apostles. One of those twelve one of them was Judas Iscariot, his known betrayer. Jesus taught him anyway, served him anyway, washed his feet anyway, and loved him anyway.

    I consider Judas to be one of the “enemies” of Jesus, if only because every human being at some point in their lives is an “enemy” of God. We have all sinned, thus our need for a Savior. God doesn’t stop loving us while we sin and then start again when we say we’re sorry. He loves us always.

  52. V Says:

    Schools need to teach more critical thinking and logic so that people will blindly accept what they read in a book? Really? Do you not see the irony in that?

  53. Pauljay Says:

    I agree with Mike the most - do all these leaders call Jesus “Lord” or “Teacher” like the deciples did? No - does that make them worthy of having their feet washed by their own creator? YES YES YES.
    Jesus said that He came for those who are LOST and not for the ones who dont need Him.
    The teaching here is that WE should all SERVE in LOVE. If you blow up my buildings something is seriously wrong with you and you sure need JESUS my friend. You are not part of the FAMILY OF CHRIST, but I need to wash your feet with love so you may BECOME part of the family.
    Did Jesus not wash the feet of the man who betrayed Him so he was put through that temporary death?
    What is forgiveness? What is grace If shown to us in such magnitude should we not show it to each other? Are we better than those who serve Satan through their ignorance and blindness? Can Jesus not heal the blind?
    This painting shows our true God. In His greatness He created everything, yet He is so great that He serves. THAT IS TRUE LOVE!! It brings me to tears to ponder on His greatness which I can only fully understand when I see Him washing the feet of those who hurt him endlessly!!!!

  54. prunes Says:

    It’s not something to be desired, but it is not something to be cowardly shirked.

    You may consider the Christians cowards who were martyred by Romans and refused to fight back or deny their faith, but I doubt that God does.

  55. Sam Marsh Says:

    Amen! Christ gave His life for the WHOLE of humanity. His salvation was the ultimate sacrifice ‘for all’. It is by Grace that we enter into the covenant relationship with God the Father, through the Son and by the Holy Spirit. It is not by our own works, even the most harden criminal or the worst person on the planet (in our human thinking) can enter into the Grace of Salvation through Christ.

    The most famous salvation verse says it all in the Amplified Version John 3:16 (15-17) “For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten ( unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life. The keyword is WHOEVER. No matter what you’ve done. Christ also teaches that it is better to serve than to be served, and exhorts us continually to humble ourselves. Paul teaches in Romans 12:2-4 “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” Grace given, humble attitude. That’s the crux of it and I love the painting, it shows Christs’ humility and servant heart, and Christians are called to be Christ-like. Thank you

  56. Damian Peterson Says:

    Wow Lon, you’ve really struck a chord with this one. Nice work.

    I like the picture for the controversy it stirs up but I don’t like the quality of the artwork or the underlying smugness of it. I can just imagine the artist thinking “look how cool my Jesus is, he’s like totally humble”. The humble act of washing people’s feet is kind of negated when proclaimed from shopping mall poster boards.

    Good find. Keep up the good work!

  57. Mark Says:

    I don’t know if this was mentioned, but we can’t forget that Jesus appeared to and saved Paul. Even though he wasn’t a disciple. In fact he even killed Christians. How awesome and righteous is that! This painting puts Christ’s message spot on. I am humbled by this.

  58. John Says:

    I agree that Christians are to follow Christ’s example. To suppose that Christ might not wash someone’s feet is presuming to know God’s ultimate judgment on the person.

    Would I wash bin Laden? That is a completely separate question. Definitely not at that maturity level.

  59. Mandy Says:

    What if one of the ones sitting was a man that molested your child? What would the picture mean to you? Jesus loves us ALL , no matter how bad we have sinned……Jesus loves you….and we need to have the same compassion for others no matter what. We can not judge others lest we be judged.

  60. Societyvs Says:

    Great point in the blog - much love from the people standing on the outside of the system and looking in…but we sure like to read.

  61. Paul Says:

    To Consider

    You claim that we can’t really know what is true, but there are experiences which either affirm something or convince us, inwardly, that it is untrue.
    It’s not all just a matter of logic. There are inner realities that guide us.
    When you get right down to it, it is these inner experiences which move us in one direction or another to believe.

    And when you take it a little deeper, it boils down to what really works for you to make your way in life.
    I agree we make big mistakes in trying to control what others believe. But that’s another issue.

  62. BrassArt Says:

    The problem I have with the image is the look of what appears to be complacent anticipation by the world leaders. The look of - this is our right.

    It could have been a much more powerful piece.

  63. Keith A. Johnson Says:

    With 25-years in prison ministry, often I receive the same flack that this painting, so I began asking these four-questions to address one’s belief system. Jesus came to offer “Grace” to those who will pass it on. Legalism, to me, is someone that wants MERCY, but lacks the desire to pass it. Though Jesus washed Judas’ feet this was looked upon as weak. Many look at “Love and Mercy” as weak, and in turn reject Christ and His message.

    The Four Questions…

    1.) What if I told you that your youngest child was murdered? Would you want mercy or justice for the perpetrator?

    2.) What if I told you that the murderer was your oldest child? Would you want mercy or justice for the perpetrator?

    3.) What if I told you that you are guilty of the murder of the only begotten Son of God? Would you want mercy or justice as the perpetrator?

    4.) What if I told you that you had a daughter, your only daughter, the apple of your eye, who has never given you a moment’s grief. Tonight, you have your tux hanging in the closet, because tomorrow you are scheduled to walk your daughter down the aisle and give her away to someone whom you approve? If you’re the mother, you have your new dress hanging next to the gown that you have been planning and preparing for since the first time she held her in her arms. But tonight, your daughter is at a bachelorette party with her peers and they talk her into having “one-for-the-road,” the first ever in her life. Two, three, four, five, six, seven (drinks) later, while on her way home, she wipes out a school bus full of little children on their way to camp. Everybody aboard the bus dies in a fiery inferno, but you daughter survives. Do you want mercy or justice for your daughter (?) and what do those that are related to those who were on bus want?

    The moral of the story is…
    The carnal heart has an ingrained sense of justice as long as it doesn’t apply to them or theirs. That is self-righteousness and hypocrisy! Furthermore, Satan knows that God will only forgive us according to our willingness to forgive others. The irony of the whole thing is – “we’re all family.”

    As we have received God’s mercy – so are we to bestow the same mercy towards others. “Freely you have received, freely give.” We can hate the sin, but we must love the sinner for “we war not against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities in high places.”

  64. Lon Says:

    Many thanks to all who commented! Forgive me if I don’t address everybody’s comments individually, it doesn’t mean that your input wasn’t appreciated. That said, there’s a few points I’d like to respond to:

    @Emily Hunter McGowin: Spiritual-fu is kinda like kung-fu, except it has to do with spiritual skills rather than, umm, kung skills. :)

    @Chris No: Umm, you’re assuming I was saying being gay was wrong. A little touchy, eh? My admittedly third-grade potshot would hold the same meaning if Bush was female. After 9/11, Bush quickly got all of bin Laden’s family out of the country safely, and then treated us to a bait-and-switch routine where we quit going after him and pulled out all the stops on Hussein. If that’s not at least metaphorically sucking his cock, I don’t know what is.

    @Piile: Some day, I pray you gain an understanding of the meaning of the Gospel verse you quoted. I fear that giving you understanding is beyond my gifts and that it will have to come from within. But suffice to say you’re misunderstanding it by a fairly wide margin. And if you’d check out my “Deprecate the Old Testament” post, you’ll learn how effective the quote from Jeremiah is. I’m not a Jew or a fundamentalist, so don’t try to smack me with OT crap.

    @Jack Mott: Dunno if Jesus was the son of God any more than any of us are. He certainly didn’t directly make such a claim. Others have made that claim on his behalf, though. Yeah, I think there’s a God, but I arrived at that via rational processes without relying on scriptural authority. Stick around, I’ll get around to describing that some day.

    @Paul: Awesome comment, I understand where you’re coming from, especially with the idea that the fundies simply need to mature/grow more in their understanding. From my perspective, however, I note that they are quite vocal in broadcasting to the world their poor and limited views, and I see it as a clear and present threat to both the teachings of Jesus as well as the general public’s perception of Christianity as a whole. When they publicly spew their bullshit, I feel an increasingly urgent need to ensure that they are called on it.

    @Stuart: So noted. My excuse is that I simply copied and pasted that list from somewhere else and didn’t catch it. With luck, I’ll remember to fix that after doing comment replies.

    @HippieGirl: I could’ve sworn I got rid of the reference to Seattle after finding out it was incorrect; so thanks for the heads-up.

    @Consider: Awesome comment. No offense taken here, that stuff needs to be said and considered. I may have to return to this comment to reply in more detail or make a separate post. I’ll add it to the to-do list.

    @V: I doubt if I can be accused of blindly accepting anything written in any book. Except, of course, by people who blindly make assumptions based on preconceived notions of who they think I am.

    @Damien: I agree about the technical quality of the painting; the style isn’t my favorite. However, it was a commissioned piece, and don’t wanna be too hard on an artist who is just tryin’ to make ends meet. It was critically important that the people be instantly recognizable, and that goal was met well.

    @Keith A. Johnson: Awesome; I love your solution to leading people to the proper thinking here.

    @ all who brought up comparisons to the foot-washing story in the Bible: I think you’re missing most of the point. Be careful drawing parallels to the washing of the disciple’s feet, which was to illustrate a separate and only semi-related point. As you note well, these leaders are not all followers of Jesus, but the original foot-washing story was to teach those dummies a lesson about arguing about who is more important than whom. Nor does the painting speak to whether or not any of the pictured leaders has or has not attained salvation. Rather the painting is reflective of a couple of Jesus’ other themes. The last shall become first, the meek shall inherit the earth, the idea that providing a service doesn’t speak towards the virtue of those being served, but it speaks volumes about the virtue of the one providing the service. I feel you make a grave mistake when you assume that having your foot washed glorifies you more than it does the person who is doing the washing. In short, you got it backwards. Again, the first shall come last, the last shall come first.

    And once again, thank to all who took the trouble to comment, whether or not I agreed with you. We all have a small piece of the ultimate puzzle whether or not the pieces appear to easily fit together.

  65. Melody Music Says:

    I aggree with the aforementioned ‘true gem’ …’The fact that their feet are being washed says nothing about their virtue. On the contrary, it glorifies the foot washer.’ … And would add, that the foot washer does not vinidicate the people having their feet washed as if to say, we are all god’s children and everyone is going to heaven. But rather Jesus even washed the feet of Judas, whom he said, it would have been better that this man had never been born. So the issue we face is not who in the picture would Jesus say, it is better they would never have been born, but what would Jesus say to us. Did we pray for those in the picture? Did we wash the feet of others in imitation of Christ?

  66. Coline Bettson Says:

    I love the picture. Thank you ! The servant mentality is alive & well in our small parish. I bet it is in a lot of families too. A good marriage is often one where each partner serves the other.

    Coline Bettson
    Dauphin, Manitoba, Canada

  67. Robin Says:

    Exactly - thanks for that article! There are too many Christians today who take a confrontational approach to those of other faiths whilst missing the true meaning of what it means to be a Christian (i.e. to forgive, to tolerate and to love). I’ve seen in countless forums Christians saying things like “we must seek out and kill bin Laden in the name of God” (something of a paraphrase, obviously, but that’s the general idea) and this kind of talk just completely undermines the Christian faith and the teachings of Christ. Yes, we should spread the word and yes, we should work against evil, but we should not do so vengefully and without tolerance.

    I think that’s the general idea of the whole article anyway. If not, sorry.

    Happy Christmas.

  68. Troy C Pearsall Says:

    Your opinion is your own and I have no problem with it. what scares me is that you would say that painting serves well as a litmus test for detecting false prophets.
    Who are you that you think God has made you the final word on what attiributes or behaviors a Christian should have with relations to a painting or any other thing for that matter?
    In truth I like the painting, but what scares me is that your writing would suggest that view which differ from your view is wrong.

    I pray that you will come to know God and the teaching of Jesus Christ not with your man sented intellect but with spirit.

    Just because your blog has aluded to the teaching of Christ Jesus does not mean you even have a clue to his teaching. I would suggest a little less time writting blogs for which you have no spiritual knowledge and more time reading the scriptures, prayer and meditaitons.

    with Love your brother in Christ

  69. Lon Says:

    @Troy C Pearsall: You ask who I am that I think I’m the final word on the attributes or behaviors that a Christian should have [...]. In response, I’d first say that as all humans, I’m certainly fallible and am in no way the final word on anything.

    However, inasmuch as I present a view that Jesus himself quite obviously shared, I do believe that it is as close to a final word on a given subject as is possible to obtain. Although there are insurmountable difficulties in determining Jesus’ exact words and His exact meanings of some of the things He allegedly said, I strongly believe that some of His teachings are indeed crystal clear and plain. There are overarching themes which don’t stand or fall based on on one or two random utterances, which source manuscript one uses, which translation one uses, or some logic-stretching exegesis which calls upon Paul’s embellishments or support from the Old Testament.

    No, there were a couple of Jesus’ themes which don’t need scholarly research to determine. There are themes for which any rational person, spirit-led or not, can easily see with clarity. These themes hold true regardless of which source manuscript or translation one uses, and there cannot be any rational argument regarding them. And it is those themes that I use when making statements such as I do regarding these issues; it is those themes I use when evaluating other scripture and doctrine by using my god-given intellect and my spirit-borne intuition.

    The fatherhood of God. The corresponding brotherhood of mankind. The concept of selfless service to both God and man, good works, being both the sublime expression of faith and the manner in which one can achieve the kingdom of God. That the kingdom of God is something that is within you.

    These concepts are non-negotiable, and it is not just this human writer who has claimed them to be. Jesus Himself was repetitive and very clear on these points, not just by telling us so, but by living a life which exemplified these ideals. If you disagree, I’d return your charge that you should spend more time with the scripture, notably the parts written in red in the synoptic Gospels, and in prayer.

    In short, if one disagrees that God is like a father, and all of mankind are like siblings of that Father, I respectfully submit that they are patently wrong. If one says that selfless service to one’s fellows is not something which exalts the one doing the service or that it does not move one towards the actual realization of the kingdom of God, I’ll definitively call them wrong. And I do so, not simply because any truly spirit-led individual can see/feel the truth in it for himself, but for the obvious fact that Jesus Himself insisted that these things were true.

  70. Cherie Says:

    I think that Jesus is willing to cleanse anyone who would be willing to come clean. He also washed the feet of Judas even though He knew that he would betray Him. I think that what He was illustrating was that He has already made provision for whosoever will come to Him to be cleansed. The thing about the picture is that most of the folks illustrated probably don’t think they need cleansing and would never go to Jesus to appropriate the salvation which He has so graciously provided by shedding His precious blood on the cross to whosoever will come to Him.

  71. No_Angel: Disturbia p.2 Says:

    [...] instead of the perpetrator, I hope i get to see a pastor coloring that page in a church near you…Golly Jesus what are you doing ! Here is a very intriguing painting by Lars Justinen of the Justinen Creative Group, now the funny [...]

  72. James Forsyth Says:

    I agree with several others who have basically said that this picture bears no relation to what actually happened. First, Christ washed his disciples’ feet, not anybody else’s, and clearly not anyone who disagreed with him on religious issues, like Bin Laden. Second, if those whose feet he was washing did not actually follow him (i.e. both literally - 3 years of ministry and figuratively - as Saviour & Lord), then the picture is a silly provocation.

    However, that said, I think I’d like to see both the painter of this picture, and the writer of this blog, make a similarly offensive gesture towards Islam. Oh, we can’t vilify Muslims, now, can we?

  73. Mat Says:

    As High Priest Jesus came to wash the feet of everyone. Jesus doesn’t decide whose feet get washed or not… the people in the chairs do and from what I know many of them have told him to piss off.

  74. dave Says:

    jesus would not wash their feet today, the foot washing was an example, george bush should wash bin ladens feet, america should wash the worlds feet, then peace may come

  75. rrrryan Says:

    The presence of Obama, I mean Osama … woops. (no offense to Obama) … Adds a dimension for me. The simple fact that a righteous leader (as Osama claims to be) seeks to serve. Jesus contrasts the behavior of every person in that row, including that of a leader who brainwashes people with promises of eternal sex with 70 something virgins (do they stay virgins or what? I mean that would be strange, wouldn’t it?) to mutilate themselves and civilians for the leader’s own whims. I am not offended to see my Lord’s humble example flying in the face of human values. Especially in a message that translates to a global culture. For some folks on this planet that is bigger than America Osama is the good guy and Bush the bad guy.

    BTW… we could have done without the petty comments about oral sex. At least my mention of virgin promises has some basis in fact and the issue at hand.

    One final note though, however not offended I am by the image, I do disagree with the context. I am reasonably convinced that Jesus’ command to “wash each other’s feet” applied to the fellowship of believers. We are to pray for our enemies, and we are to love them as well (ouch), however until the “body is cleaned” cleaning the feet would be entirely futile. In short, I am convinced I should pray and try to love my enemy, but that doesn’t mean I help them accomplish their plans. I’ll focus my help on things like orphans, widows, sick, and hungry… I’ll leave the killing and stuff to the folks in that row.

    Final, final note… anyone else having trouble shaking the relief over Hussein being gone? I’m sure if I knew him I would find a way to miss him.

  76. What’s New With Mick :: Christian Challenge Says:

    [...] pointed out this excellent response to a local controversy over a poster depicting Jesus washing the feet of world leaders including [...]

  77. OhHolyKnight Says:

    I understand the teachings of Jesus. I believe he said it best when he said, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:34-39)

    “I did not come to bring peace”! Isn’t that the truth! How many conflicts have arisen because of that lunatic! Oh, did I misconstrue the passage? Alright, how about you guys tell me the snippets of the bible I should read and the other parts I should ignore.

  78. Using The Lords Name in Vain « Says:

    [...] of others with hateful speech. References & Inspirations The Blog of Lon – 12/12/07 “How many Christians Understand Jesus’ Teachings” Beyond Today – 02/25/08 “Hate [...]

  79. Sillie Lizzie Says:

    You and the commentors are so WRONG that its absolutely stunning.

    First of all, Jesus washed HIS DISCIPLES’ feet, not the feet of those who killed Him then, nor those who desire to kill His people today. Feet washing is a symbol of Christian fellowship in humility toward one another, the OPPOSITE of the essence of your comments and your attitude toward other believers.

    Second, Jesus DIED for sinners. We know the for whom He died in the atonement because they REPENT of their sins. That’s why we have the distinction between the two thieves who died with Jesus. I have yet to see ANY of the people in that picture repent of their sins. Even Bush only confesses that Jesus cured him of alchoholism, like some new self-help therapy.

    Third, the appropriate PICTURE for the critical truths I just articulated above is the CROSS — not that blasphemous picture. The appropriate symbol for that picture is them burning in HELL if they don’t repent before they die.

    As long as such unbelievable IGNORANCE of true Christianity is perpetrated by people like you and those whom you deceive, both the Christian church AND our nation will continue to be disgraced and trampled by Satan.

    Shame on you. All of you.

  80. Lon Says:

    @Sillie Lizzie: First, thank you for your comment. Although we have significant disagreement here, it is always refreshing in today’s world to find someone who does indeed care enough to take the time.

    I see on your blog post that you have already cast judgment upon me with your claims that I sit at the table with Judas and “worship the image of the beast”. Given that, I have grave doubts whether it is even possible for me to say anything further to convince you of your error. I will say that my liberal friends always get a chuckle when they hear someone calling me a leftist; only the so-called “conservatives” of the current day who arguably don’t understand the definition of the word seem to think I’m not conservative in most matters. I do find it interesting, however, that when one examines Jesus’ teachings, it is obvious to anyone with at least a high school education that He was more liberal than any human wearing that label today.

    That said, along with several of the ones commenting previously, I’d urge you to take a fresh look at the painting without trying to consider the depiction as an attempt to re-create the event where He was washing the feet of His disciples. Rather consider that the same action was depicted with a slightly different set of circumstances to slightly change the emphasis of the lesson presented.

    In the original event with His disciples, Jesus was attempting to show them the foolishness of the argument they were having regarding which one(s) of them would have a more prestigious position in the afterlife. To do so, He used the obvious and universal fact that performing a service for someone does not say anything about the character of the person for whom the service is done, but it speaks volumes about the character of the person doing the service. And it speaks even louder when the person doing the service is of “greater” stature than the one receiving the service. Anyone is willing to serve a friend or someone they thought to be greater than themselves. It takes a truly excellent character to freely provide a service to someone who is of lesser stature than oneself, and by doing so, one is exalted.

    That is the point I believe you are missing here in light of the last line in your blog post. You said that Jesus would kneel before no one, which says to me that you believe that doing so somehow means that the one doing the kneeling is inferior. I, on the other hand, believe that point being made is that a persona such as Jesus Himself, washing the feet of even those I believe (possibly incorrectly) are His enemies, glorifies Him beyond words. You say, rightfully so, that Jesus is the King of Kings. Is it not a good king who serves all of his people, even those that disagree with him? All humans qualify as Jesus’ people, and His very appearance on our sin-ridden planet reveals His character.

    In our day and age, politicians are as poorly regarded as the tax-collectors and the others with whom Jesus spent his time while on our planet. The painting uses this, not in an attempt to re-create the message shown in the original foot-washing episode, but in an attempt to illustrate Jesus’ entire ministry on Earth. Even if this is not true, when you say that Jesus didn’t wash the feet of His enemies, I assume you’re forgetting the presence of Judas?

    Finally, I would ask that you notice that when I make most of my arguments in religious matters, I use Jesus’ words and teachings as recorded in the Bible as my basis. If you believe that my interpretation of one or more of His teachings is in error, it would be helpful if you presented your counter argument by likewise referencing His teachings. Like many, I find the Bible to be valuable, but unlike many, I firmly believe that Jesus’ actual teachings are at a higher priority and importance than Paul’s or anyone else’s. If we truly believe that Jesus was indeed God or some part thereof, we must admit that His actual words carry a good bit more weight than any human regardless of how inspired that human was.

  81. Sillie Lizzie Says:

    I did, in fact, refer “liberally” to Jesus’ teaching in my argument. You just don’t want to accept them for what they are. I quoted the LAST words of Jesus from the book of revelation after His ascension to the throne. Frankly, anyone who alleges to know Jesus and in the same breath says “if we truly believe Jesus was indeed God OR SOME PART THEREO”, surely doesn’t know Him at all!

    Furthermore, there isn’t one single scripture to establish your premise that “Jesus’ actal teachings are at a higher priority” than Paul or anyone else’s. In fact, your belief in that regard contradicts scripture.

    And no wonder, since the essential premise of your whole blog is nothing but a regurgitation of the 2nd century Marcionite heresy which has been refuted a hundred times. You commit the same heresy, and by the same tactics… picking and choosing the scriptures that you like or dislike to make your assertions, on no other grounds than just because you are an authority unto yourself. Who the heck do you think you are?

    So, why would I waste any more time casting pearls before swine? If you lack the integrity to examine scritpure in its ENTIRETY, in its historical, grammatic and chronological context, we can argue till the cows come home and you will be no more in the light than you are now. And you will inherit the same condemnation as your Marcionite mentor.