Look at Him :: Horace Pippin, “Christ Crowned With Thorns”

Horace Pippin, Christ Crowned with Thorns; oil on canvas; 1938.

Good Friday is a time when we in a serious and focused way turn our eyes upon Jesus our Messiah crucified. It is a time when remember the cost of our salvation in the grisly death of Jesus. Isaiah the prophet speaks to us: “Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:4-5). We call to mind the reality that Jesus let go of so much, emptying Himself, in order to bring so much to us. The Apostle Paul describes it: Jesus “did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:6-8). Horace Pippin served in World War I, witnessing the brutality of that conflict and suffering an injury to his shoulder. He took up painting in part as a form of therapy for his injured arm after the war, and quickly became one of the most celebrated African American painters of the ear. Always staying close to the church, Pippin often painted on religious themes. Here Pippin’s portrait of Christ crowned with thorns captures the humble, unadorned Savior right before He is beaten and crucified. His eyes stare at us, inviting us to keep our eyes fixed on Him as He enters the brutality that will bring us life.

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