THE TREE FOR THE CROSS
by Colin Moffett
I stood in the forest growing so strong
From all of my companions I was numbered among
They picked me out as the rough barked tree
To crucify the Saviour of men on the hard wood of me
I felt each blow as they cut me down
Then pared of the branches of my leaf topped crown
And used one of them, the limbs of my loss
To nail it to my trunk and form me as a cross
They brought Jesus out with His thorn crowned head
The wounds of His body were dripping blood red
And they tossed me over His shoulder to carry me along
But they had abused Him so much He was no longer strong
He could not carry me but I carried His frame
For He was fixed to my trunk and they pinned on me His name
As they nailed His hands and feet I felt that I could
Feel His pain, for each nail through Him also pierced into my wood
Secured to my timber, they lifted us both high
And they stood back to mock and watch Jesus die
In the long dreadful hours so solemn and dark
I felt His poor body writhe on my bark
Its roughness I hated and wished it to be smooth
For I would have given anything His body to soothe
My sap mixed with His blood and sweat He was perspiring
And knew by His breathing His life was expiring
The trembling in His body slowly diminished
Then ceased all breathing for life was finished
The Saviour of sinners hanging dead on me
And I wished otherwise it could be
For I did not want to be the one
To carry on me God’s dear Son
But it was ordained that Jesus should die on a tree
And His blood that was spilled was spilled on me
The wood of my body is long since gone
A risen Saviour still lives on
When by coming to Jesus sinners can recover their loss
I am glad I played my part by being the tree for the cross
I think it is telling that much contemporary Christian art depicts Jesus on the cross in splendid isolation. No followers. No crowds. No one crucified next to him. Compare that to ancient Christian art where Jesus was nearly always imagined in relationship to others. None of our western individualism. It was Christ, in community, in context. Our symbols are not culturally neutral.
Which one was it
that held the nails
and then hammered them
Did he hit them
out of anger,
or a simple
sense of duty?
Was it a job
that had to be done,
or a good day’s work
in the open air?
And when they
clawed past bone
and bit into wood,
was it like all the others,
or did history
shudder a little
beneath the head
of that hammer?
Was he still there,
packing away his tools,
when ‘It is finished’
was uttered to the throng,
or was he at home
washing his hands
and getting ready
for the night?
Will he be
among the forgiven
on that Day of Days,
his sin having been slain
by his own savage spike?
– Steve Turner
Jesus Christ is crucified” by Jamini Roy
Jamini Roy (1887-1972) was an influential (non-Christian) Indian artist who forged a style that was both Indian and avant garde, taking crude Kalighat Pat styles as his sources of inspiration.
Although I find his art eye catching I can’t help but notice that, as with many non-Christian artists who delve into Christian themes, Jamini Roy seems to have limited his exploration to the beginning and end of the life of Jesus, not venturing in between. His works include of paintings of the Maddona and Child, the Last Supper, the Crucifixion, and narrative-less Jesus portraits, amongst many works illustrating Hindu mythology.
Wicasta Lovelace’s painting of the “The Crucifixion of Ayn Rand” juxtaposes Rand’s philosophy of selfishness with Christ’s act of selflessness. Could there be a greater contraction?
Why yes, in real life. But while the intentional juxtaposition in this painting is something I can appreciate, how Tea Party Christians can idolize this pro-choise Atheist in real life is beyond me.
Particularly when this is what Ayn Rand has to say of the way of Jesus: “I am against God. I don’t approve of religion. It is a sign of a psychological weakness … I regard it as evil.” Then again, it is not surprising she opposes God when Jesus has said this, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.” Rand could see the contradiction between Objectivist philosophy and Christian theology. I wonder why her Tea Party disciples can’t?
“Good Friday” by Australian Aboriginal artist Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri.
See if you can figure out the symbolism for yourself. This one is relatively easy.