Sculpture prompts thoughts on Christ

Published on Friday, 14 March 2014 22:30 - Written by Rebecca Hoeffner rhoeffner@tylerpaper.com

Depending on where you live, it’s a familiar scene: a person almost completely covered with a blanket on a public bench, trying to sleep.

But this one is different. If you look closely, there are nail holes in his feet.

It’s a sculpture of Jesus by artist Timothy Schmalz. The gift was given to the city by a member of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, where the bench is located.

But some people aren’t so happy about the sculpture, like one woman in the Washington Times story.

“That’s not who Jesus is,” said Cindy Castano Swannack, who called the police before she realized the sculpture wasn’t a real person. “Jesus is not a vagrant, Jesus is not a helpless person who needs our help. We need someone who is capable of meeting our needs, not someone who is also needy.”

To me, the sculpture is a powerful reminder of what Jesus said in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 25.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’”

What do you think about this sculpture? What kind of message does it send?