It seems to me that the Jesus many people are most familiar with is one based on middle-class America from the 1950’s and 1960’s.
In some ways, perhaps unintentionally, Jesus has been packaged and marketed to an American religious consumer who lives a straight, financially stable, non-dysfunctional, and comfortable middle-class life.
But middle-class American life from that time period has never been the experience of the majority of the world’s population, and it may no longer be the experience of the majority of the American population today.
So my graphic work uses source material from the 1950’s and 1960’s to point out that we need a fresh look at Jesus.
We need to know Him as who He is, not as who others have tried to make Him. This is why my approach is usually to look at who Jesus IS NOT to hopefully uncover who Jesus IS.
That also includes a fresh look at other things too. Are all little girls A+ student who always have the right answers and exhibit perfect manners? And are all little boys C- students who are supposed to always be slightly mischievous and messy?
Do we also hold stereotypes concerning Jesus? Certainly there were stereotypes during his ministry.
“Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. John 1:46 (NRSV)
And really aren’t stereotypes sort of the product of “keeping count”? We instinctively look for repeated patterns to protect ourselves out of fear. Who is going to hurt me? Take something from me? Get more good things than me? Get less bad things than me?
Maybe it isn’t until we truly know Jesus, as His Apostle Nathaniel came to do, that stereotypes begin to vanish along with our fears.