Evidently Hollywood is the one place on earth where everyone has a flawless nose and straight, gleaming white teeth, or so they would like us to think. Even the movie star Jesus has attained physical perfection. The recently released movie, Son of God
is not only hot for its evangelical message, but the actor Diogo Morgado makes for a hot Jesus. He has taken twitter by storm with a #HotJesus hashtag.
Ironically the same week as the movie premiered a homeless Jesus statue was unveiled in front of a church in Davidson, NC. This Jesus cuts a different profile. He sleeps on a bench covered in a blanket. As you draw closer it becomes obvious who it is by the holes in his feet. The rector of St. Albans’s Episcopal, The Rev. David Buck, reflects that in an affluent community such as Davidson this piece of art is out of place. He says “It jolts you when you see it especially at dusk; if you walk by you think there’s a homeless man out there.”
The rector makes the point that the Jesus we discover in the Bible has always been out of place.
Apparently the statue has a history. Other casts were considered for placement at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York and another Roman Catholic cathedral in Toronto, but church “higher-ups” nixed the plans. This is not the first time homeless Jesus has been sidelined. Our gospels narrate several scenes in which he was either outright rejected or received with such cool response “Jesus could do no mighty work there.” (Mark 6:5)
Can a Hollywood Jesus change a heart? I’m not so sure. He can create a buzz and fill the seats in a theater but unless we see in him the rejected and the marginalized, he bears little resemblance to the one who came among us and loved the world.
These words from Matthew’s gospel come to mind, “I
I was hungry and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked and you gave me clothes to wear. I was sick and you took care of me. I was in prison and you visited me… I assure you that whenever you have done it for one of the least of these you have done it for me.”
Regardless, we look elsewhere. We have always liked our gods buffed and handsome. The Greek’s displayed muscled bound marble statues and we tune into the Oscars. We pay to see Amy Adams and Brad Pitt take us out of our world and into the land of make believe. There is a hidden pleasure in all of us that desires to be them or to at least to be associated with them.
So we give Jesus a makeover and he appears as hot stuff.
The Son of God given to the world has the lines of hardship in his face. He is one of us. We won’t see him on the red carpet and kept at a distance but sleeping on the park bench or in the grocery store checkout line. The only barrier is our willingness to introduce ourselves.
When we get to know him we discover our shared humanity and find redemption.