Image of Jesus: On the road to Emmaus/The Second Mile

Image

The Second Mile by Michael Belk from Journeys with the Messiah

As part of my Religion and Media Class I have been asked to select an image that was either a favorite of mine or something that was provocative.

The reason I selected this particular image was because it was a picture as opposed to some other artwork medium.  There aren’t many pictures that are used as art to represent Jesus.  This picture tells the story of the walk on the road to Emmaus, which takes place after Jesus has been crucified.

What I find interesting to reflect about this particular image centers around who Jesus is walking alongside of, a Nazi solider.  Jesus is even carrying the knapsack and gun of the soldier.  On the one hand I can see how the photographer is trying to show that Jesus is revealed to all, and that all may be opened to hearing and receiving God’s redemption.  On the other hand, I find this image to be very troubling because of the role that religion was used by the state during the reign of the Third Reich.  This idea of Gott mit uns (God with us) being used as a means of authority for the actions they took.  I imagine that this image may be especially troubling for our Jewish brothers and sisters.  This represented image of Jesus could be interpreted as collusion between Christians and the Nazis.  If you don’t know the story and the meaning about what takes place on the road to Emmaus, it is unclear how Jesus and the Nazi soldier relate to one another.

What do you think?

If you are interested in looking at other Images of Jesus by this photographer feel free to check out his website.

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4 Responses to Image of Jesus: On the road to Emmaus/The Second Mile

  1. Jean Caudill says:

    Wow, I’ve never seen this picture but it is most definitely provocative. This afternoon I sang the hymn “Abide with me” to a woman at the nursing home with severe separation anxiety who does not believe Jesus is with her through her suffering. There are many ways to understand the concept of “God with us” or of Jesus “abiding”. I’m curious as to when this artwork was created. Context often unfolds extra meaning.

    • Hi Jean-

      There is much to be comforted with the idea of God being with us, especially in our times of suffering and anxiety. I think one of the interesting points about this pictures is that you wouldn’t necessarily thinking about God being with someone, who we’ve come to see as being so evil. I believe these pictures were composed within the last couple of years as part of the project that I linked to in the post. I still think there are some significant issues raised in how this picture speaks to the Jewish community.

  2. theologizethenews says:

    This image has stuck with me since you posted it last week. It brought up really interesting conversations in class. Do you know if the artist meant this to depict the road to Emmaus or just the parable of going the second mile? Like you, I definitely saw the road to Emmaus, but it’s just labeled “The Second Mile.”

    • I’m sorry I missed out on the conversation. When I first saw the image I didn’t know the title of it, and immediately I thought of the road to Emmaus story, although that involved two people walking with Jesus. Like we’ve talked about in class over the last week. Once something is presented, it can make new meaning with the audience that hears and receives it. So to give you a definitive answer: I don’t know. I think much of my original comments would remain the same, but it is interesting to contemplate that the Nazi soldier would be forcing Jesus to go with him. (Matt. 5:41) Loving your enemies is explicit in the Matthew text, where as on the Road to Emmaus story. Jesus is among those whom he may consider to be friends.

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