““And during supper…one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was lying close to the breast of Jesus.” — — John 13:2, 23 (RSV)
Friends get together for an intimate dinner in “The Last Supper” from “The Passion of Christ: A Gay Vision,” a series of 24 paintings by Douglas Blanchard. The contemporary Christ figure dines with twelve people, the classic dozen disciples, but they are a multi-racial group of many ages, orientations, and gender identities. An elderly black woman sits beside a white businessman. A drag queen in high heels holds hands with a man. The face of Jesus looks almost the same as when he was preaching in the temple… impassive. He wraps his arms around the men beside him. The whole group is joined by touch, and yet they are not completely united. They express emotions ranging from surprise to sorrow, and each one looks in a different direction. Plates hold food for a Passover Seder meal, including matzo bread, a hard-boiled egg, and roast lamb. A single glass of blood-red wine stands out against the drab colors, hinting at the sacrifice to come. The room is simple, lit only by a bare light bulb. They are seated in a way that invites viewers to join them at the table.
All four gospels describe the final meal that Jesus ate with his disciples before he was arrested. Biblical accounts of the Last Supper are full of dramatic details and dialogue, making it possible to imagine what happened on that fateful night. Jesus announced to his startled disciples that one of them would betray him. They were shocked again when he identified the bread and wine as his own body and blood, urging them to eat and drink their share of it. By giving new meaning to the Passover meal, he helped prepare them for his impending death He summarized his teachings on love and gave them a new commandment: Love each other as I have loved you. He prayed for believers in the present and future. He told them that the greatest love is to lay down your life for your friends.
Source: Jesus in Love Blog: Day 3: Jesus has a Last Supper, prays alone and is arrested (Gay Passion of Christ series)
“He poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables.” — John 2:13 (RSV)
An angry modern-day Christ figure disrupts business in “Jesus Drives Out the Money Changers.” Jesus, hair flying, overturns tables stacked with money. Coins scatter, bills flutter away, and the men in suits run. A crowd in the background yanks off the barred gate that separates them from the wealthy money managers. One security guard struggles to keep out the mob. Another officer reaches to grab Jesus by the shoulder. Jesus looks like a freedom fighter standing up against greed and income inequality. The setting appears to be a present-day church office or financial institution with statues, classic columns, and a hanging lamp.
All four gospels describe what is commonly called “the cleansing of the temple.” By some accounts Jesus kicked the money changers out of the Temple as soon as he arrived in Jerusalem. When he saw them taking advantage of people’s faith in God, he exploded. It was the only time that Jesus used physical violence in the Bible. Jesus poured out the coins of the money changers and turned over their tables. Then he made a whip of cords and used it to chase them out, along with the sacrificial animals that they were selling. Nothing made Jesus angrier than religious hypocrisy. He yelled, “My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you make it a den of robbers.” It was one of many occasions when he blasted religious leaders for exploiting the poor. He talked more about money than anything else except God.
Source: Jesus in Love Blog
“And when he entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, ‘Who is this?’ And the crowds said, ‘This is the prophet Jesus.’” –Matthew 21:10-11 (RSV)
A crowd marches under an arch with a charismatic young man on horseback in “Jesus Enters the City” from “The Passion of Christ: A Gay Vision,” a series of 24 paintings by Douglas Blanchard. Signs for “freedom” and “justice” make it a rally for almost any cause, from marriage equality and LGBT rights to the Occupy movement or the Tea Party. The masses adore Jesus as if he was a rock star or political leader. They stretch their hands up to him, grasping for the savior that they expect him to be. The group expresses 21st-century diversity: male and female, multi-racial, young and old, queer and straight, able-bodied and wheelchair-bound. A mother and daughter lead the way, along with a black man who holds the horse’s reins. In the middle of this “triumph,” Jesus bends down to be embraced by someone unnoticed and out of view. He is focused on something that others ignore. By passing through the arch, Jesus leaves his old life behind to meet the new challenges ahead.
Source: Jesus in Love Blog
“God has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.” — Isaiah 61:1 (Inclusive Language Lectionary)
A contemporary Jesus arrives as a prisoner in the painting that launches the series “The Passion of Christ: A Gay Vision” by Douglas Blanchard. Jesus stands half-naked in blue jeans and handcuffs, attractive even in adversity. Blanchard paints an accessible Jesus that 21st-century readers can know and touch in his Passion series. The 24 paintings portray Jesus as a gay man of today in a modern city, experiencing the events of Palm Sunday, the Last Supper, and his arrest, trial, crucifixion and resurrection. The beardless young Christ is unfamiliar to modern eyes, but Blanchard harkens back to the most ancient images of Jesus. The gay vision of Christ’s Passion promises to address the suffering of queer people today — and thereby speak to the human condition. Christ the liberator comes as a prisoner. With this first painting, the stage is set and the viewer is invited to join Jesus on a journey that leads from prison to paradise.
Source: Jesus in Love Blog