Eugene Cho

what do you see?


I saw this photo somewhere (not sure where) of Jesus, a rifle, and a Nazi (Hitler?) and couldn’t stop staring and reflecting upon it. I’m sharing it here as I’d love to hear your thoughts:

What do you see? How would you interpret this picture? Does it confirm or challenge?

The image perplexed me for so many reasons. It made me recall a conversation I had during my seminary years. During one lecture, we were discussing Dietrich Bonhoeffer – who was a Lutheran pastor and a pacifist faced with the dilemma of Hitler and the Nazi regime:

Bonhoeffer became part of a group of two thousand pastors who formed the Pastors Emergency League. They opposed the state approved Nazi church. When pressure from the government increased, this group changed into the illegal Confessing Church. The Confessing Church believed that Christians should follow God first, not the nation or Hitler. Bonhoeffer served as the head of the Confessing Church’s illegal school.

Bonhoeffer was a pacifist. A pacifist does not believe that violence is ever the solution to problems. But as Bonhoeffer heard stories of Jewish people being killed, his ideas changed. He decided that pacifism was a good theory, but to not act was to act. If he, and others, did not act, they were letting Hitler succeed. If he did nothing to fight the evil he saw, he was supporting the evil. He said this:

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us innocent. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

Bonhoeffer eventually had the chance to leave Germany but eventually decided to return in an effort to re-build his country. After much wrestling, Bonhoeffer joined a group trying to kill Hitler. Their attempt failed and he was sent to prison where he wrote couple of his books. During class, we discussed Bonhoeffer’s ethical dilemma and were asked the following question:

“What would you do if you were in a similar situation?”

Filed under: christianity, church, faith, Jesus,

63 Responses

  1. billyjohnsonlive says:

    Wow. The first thing I noticed was Jesus carrying a gun. I did not like that. I have a growing pacifism in me. But then I noticed that the soldier was not carrying a pack and a gun. Jesus took his. He is carrying the Nazi’s burden. Wow.

    The awesome grace of the “one who had no sin, yet became sin for us” overwhelms me in this picture. How truly amazing is His grace. Thanks.

    • transformed says:

      Personally, I see Jesus carrying the rifle that the FORMER Nazi has willingly surrendered to Him. (Yes, the soldier still in uniform, but how many of us are COMPLETELY free of the evidence of our past at the moment of conversion?) For a while, Paul was still identified as the persecuter of the Church after Jesus blinded & knocked him off of his “high horse”.
      I see a free man whose posture indicates he is not weighted down by hate and murderous intent. He has met the Lord, and has been CHANGED.

    • Meghan G. says:

      The nazi’s not wearing a combat uniform. Does the rifle and pack belong to the nazi? View this comment made my Adolf Hitler:

      “…we are a people of different faiths, but we are one. Which faith conquers the other is not the question; rather, the question is whether Christianity stands or falls. We tolerate no one in our ranks who attacks the ideas of Christianity … in fact our movement is Christian. We are filled with a desire for Catholics and Protestants to discover one another in the deep distress of our own people.”

      Christ was sent to show humanity the way, the truth, and life, for that is what he is. Both The Christ, and the national socialists of old Germany revolted against the money changers and drove them away with a whip!

      I believe that rifle belongs to Christ in the image. I choose to perceive the image in this way. Those who know the way, truth, and have life, shall follow him into the battle.

      • Meghan G. says:

        I like this picture very much. However, I’d like to add that firstly, we are told repeatedly, in various ways, within the biblical texts NOT to make for ourselves an [engraved] image of any creatures of the earth or in the heavens [the sky and obviously, God’s kingdom]. This isn’t a rule that simply applies to God or gods. Christ is not an image, and ought not to be depicted within or as such.

  2. Adrienne says:

    This gives me hope, but not in a Bonhoeffer way.
    As @billyjohnsonlive has said, I interpret that Hitler has told Jesus to carry his pack and gun, and Jesus has accepted (as he would have to in first-century Palestine). But Jesus uses the opportunity to talk and break into Hitler’s world and show him God.

    Marvelous comparisons to our current culture. How we are both constrained by the evil of others, but these actions give us opportunity to bring the kingdom to them.

  3. Andy M says:

    I would say that Jesus offered to carry the burden to have the chance to speak with him.

    I understand Bonhoeffer’s dilemma because I can’t consider myself a pacifist because I don’t believe in inaction, but I cannot accept that violence will solve anything. Violence against violence may stop the current conflict, but it will not change anything in the long run. History clearly shows us that. I prefer nonviolent resistance.

    I heard once that in the attempt to kill Hitler, the way in which he survived strengthened Hitler’s resolve because he believed he survived because of divine appointment or something to that effect. So it could be argued that the assassination attempt made things worse.

    I honestly don’t know what I would have done. If I had been in Bonhoeffer’s place in that period of time, under those circumstances, I would possibly have done the same. But I still can’t help but feel that there would have been a better way.

  4. I think the piece is meant to illustrate Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5 – “If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.” During the time of Jesus, Roman soldiers often forced Jews to carry their equipment for up to one Roman mile. Most scholars believe this is what Jesus was referring to when he gave this teaching.

    For this reason, I really like the image. It reminds me that when Jesus taught his followers to love their enemies, they probably thought of the Romans, who themselves were guilty of genocide, infanticide, immorality, idolatry, lust for power, and religious persecution. The closest thing in our imagination is probably Hitler’s regime.

    It’s hard for me to reconcile violence in light of the fact that the early church – despite cruel persecution – did not fight back against the Roman empire. It seems they took Jesus’ teachings pretty seriously.

  5. Bryan says:

    I see Jesus walking once again on Emmaus Road once again gently bringing truth to some one who has truly missed what he was all about.

    I see Jesus carrying an “enemies” stuff the extra mile.

    I see Jesus doing justice, loving mercy, and humbling walking and inviting another to do the same.

  6. Rachel hit the nail on the head. This is clearly the Matthew 5 call to go the extra mile, in which Jesus called His followers to not only carry the packs of the Roman soldiers the required mile, but to go the extra, unrequired mile.

    Bonhoeffer has been inspirational to me in many ways, but in the end feel he made a mistake by participating in the plot against Hitler. True pacifism cannot be equated with “not doing” or “not speaking”. In fact, most true pacifist pay dearly for their actions & words, often with their lives.

    Peace,
    Jamie

    • Eugene Cho says:

      Jamie:

      It’s tough. I waffle back and forth on Bonhoeffer’s participation in the assassination plot against Hitler. In response to the question posed to us during that seminary discussion, I said that I would consider a similar decision and couldn’t sleep that night.

      So much devastation as a result of Hitler and the regime…

      • Agreed, Eugene. I am not sure I would have made a different choice to Bonhoeffer. One never knows until truly faced with the situation. My main objection to Bonhoeffer is that he articulated pacifism as passivism, which means he did not attempt the alternative. Further, our call to peace by Christ is not pragmatic. He clearly taught that it would get us persecuted and killed. I hope I would make a different choice to Bonhoeffer, but I understand how he made it.

        Peace,
        Jamie

        • Eugene Cho says:

          Ahh, I get what you’re saying. That quote can certainly be interpreted as pacifism = passivism but he tried. He was a pacifist for a great deal of his life. He tried and saw the ugliness of the Nazi regime only grow…

          Such an intense and difficult dilemma.

  7. Bill B says:

    I had never seen this photo before. At a glance, it appears that Jesus is in a discussion with the Nazi soldier. Their body language doesn’t display any hostility or animosity. Appears that they are having a casual conversation.

    Many view Naziism as an affront and evil. Many would say that much evil has been done under the banner of Christianity. Therefore, this depiction of a Nazi Soldier and Jesus with a rifle may be the artists attempt at saying Governments and Christianity are, equally, accountable to much of the evil in the world.

    These are just my initial thoughts. No offense meant.

    • Bill B says:

      I will have to say, that the scene isn’t correct if the artists intent is to show some sort of collaboration/corrolation. A quiet, country lane is hardly the setting one would depict if such a connection was intended.

  8. Kyle Nolan says:

    The first thing I thought about in this was Matthew 5, but what we tend to miss is that, by Roman law, the second mile wasn’t allowed, and a soldier could get in serious trouble for a Jew carrying his pack the second mile. Jesus was making a deeply subversive, nonviolent suggestion that challenged the oppressed to do something other than respond violently, and the oppressor to rethink his actions. (see Walter Wink, Jesus and Nonviolence: A Third Way.)

    Reading the picture this way, you could say that by carrying the gun, Jesus is disarming the Nazi both literally and figuratively. I think it’s beautiful.

  9. Idelette says:

    Just watched Defiance on the weekend, so still raw into this story … Our history has much to teach us. Thank you for opening this dialogue. I agree with the comments on Jesus taking the rifle upon him & walking the extra mile. Engaging the enemy. While the image is disturbing, I am reminded that we all need Jesus to meet us where we’re at. Powerful stuff. Thanks again.

  10. Eugene Cho says:

    If anyone knows or finds out the creator of the image, please let me know. I’d like to properly credit it.

  11. I’m not really interested in the pacifism argument when I see this- what I see is Jesus being Jesus and I love the image. Going the distance, caring, face to face, perhaps reasoning with the guy, having conversation, taking time with someone the rest of us would despise.

    Sometimes you have to take a person’s crutch away (in this case the gun) in order to get them to listen. Maybe Jesus has successfully done that here. The rich man wouldn’t part with his wealth, but has this soldier managed to surrender his treasure = pride/nationalism/duty/status?

  12. What I saw was a 30’s and WWII contextualization of Matthew 5 -“If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.” As Rachel, Brian and Jamie also have mentioned.

    Though, I think other dimensions are hidden by the fact that I don’t know the context of the image. If it is from the period of the 30’s or WWII, I would think this is all there is to this image. If however, it’s context is after the war I wonder if there is a struggle or critique of this saying of Jesus’.

    I am also fascinated that Jesus carrying a gun is troubling. As if Jesus wouldn’t even go near violence. So clearly not true in my reading of the Gospels.

    I too have a deep respect for Bonehoeffer and even see him as a Martyr. Even so I am not sure his involvement with the assassination plot was the “right” decision, but if I recall correctly even Bonehoeffer, though he saw it as necessary did not deny that it was wrong.

    Though I do think it is also a mistake to see in the image Hittler or the whole Nazi regime.

    I wonder if the members of the Church of Christ, had witnessed to the Gospel in this way from the first rise of Nazism, would have Bonhoeffer’s dilemma ever even needed to be contemplated.

    It that sense I see much of Bonhoeffer’s and that of the confessing church to the failure of Christians to truly be disciples as the Nazi’s rose to power. they allowed nationalism to blind them. This image to me is neither a service to a nationalism, nor of hatred of those who serve the Empire, but of love that can transform.

    It’s easy to hate Nazi’s and Nazism now and as American’s, it’s easy to judge Bonhoeffer. This conversation and the above image in the end makes me ask how much of the energy of my opposition to evil or perceived evil in the world, whether found in corporations, or nations or state institutions is fueled by hatred of those institutions and the people involved (and not simply the evil itself) rather than the love of Christ.

  13. Kyle Nolan says:

    The Second Mile
    THE PARABLE COLLECTION
    The joyful gift of forgiving.
    Where does a mother garner the strength to stand in a courtroom and forgive the man who murdered her daughter? How do Jews ever forgive the Nazis for the Holocaust?

    Jesus’ teachings on this subject were revolutionary: “Love your enemies as yourself. Pray for those who persecute you. Forgive people seventy times seven.” Jesus reminds us that, just as God forgives us, we are expected to do the same for others.

    Still, His teachings on forgiveness are more for our benefit because He wants us to let go of the bitterness and anger we hold on to. He knows that our feelings of anger, resentment and hatred will not hurt the other person to the degree they can destroy us, even to the point of making us sick.

    Just saying, “I forgive you,” releases you from emotional, physical and spiritual bondage. It sets us free to move on with life and His glorious plan.

    Forgive and let it go.

    Matthew 5:38-48

    that was the caption from the photo on the site.

    • Ugh. I never know what to do with the “forgiveness is for your own sake” stuff. While we in our therapeutic culture have elevated the very real “benefits” of forgiveness, it’s such a stretch to project that line of thinking onto Jesus’ ministry. It’s just not there.

      As for the image, I saw an illustration of the “extra mile,” not a violent Jesus.

      I don’t doubt that I would have chosen similarly to Bonhoeffer if I similarly saw no other way to stop Hitler. And I pray that I might never rationalize it as a “good” choice. It is at best a tragic choice in the midst of a truly fallen world.

      • Andy M says:

        I would disagree with your statement about forgiveness. I would argue that forgiveness is for the benefit of all parties involved, not just the forgiven. For a person to not forgive, is for them to hold on to what anger, resentment, bitterness, whatever, rather than releasing it in forgiveness. Those things are toxic, to ourselves, to our relationships, etc.

        I don’t know if I would use the language, “forgiveness is for your own sake”, but undoubtedly forgiveness is for the benefit of all.

        Plus, the scriptures clearly connect our own forgiveness from God with how we do or do not forgive others, Matthew 6:14.

  14. happyheretic says:

    I think that if more was done prior to the build up of arms that became horrific, maybe the war could have been disarmed. We tend to think of action against the Nazis as occurring only after the war began.

    As to what I would have done in Bonhoeffer’s shoes? That is easy to answer.

    With all the evil that is occurring around our globalized world, sadly, I can say I wouldn’t have done much [am not doing much]!

    Our not acting that is acting starts now, before we hit the crisis!

  15. Steven says:

    I agree with the others that it looks like Jesus is carrying the “burden” of the other although I too was disturbed by the image of Jesus carrying a rifle.

    I am a pacifist and did my (enforced at the time) national service in my country (South Africa) as a non-combatant (I refused to carry a weapon) but during one “punishment” exercise when one of my “team” was battling to continue with his rifle I offered to take his (I was the only one without a rifle which made it easier for me) – the entire team refused to allow me to take the rifle as they new my stand – it was a truly humbling (and life-changing) moment which helps me (a bit) to understand the picture.

    Like Bonhoeffer though, I too struggle with my pacifist convictions in certain circumstances. At the moment I struggle, big-time, with the fascist regime of Robert Mugabe in my neighboring country, Zimbabwe. There are many times when I have wished him dead and feel sometimes that assassination would be a good option.

    It truly is a huge struggle to “love your enemies” and sometimes I ask myself what true love looks like in the face of evil. I have to believe though that Christ, in his infinite mercy, would always seek the way of redemption even for those perpetrators of evil.

  16. NB says:

    Indeed it is a profound pic. In my first glance my perception was of forgiveness and releasing the burden of sin (hence ther rifle). Ur article conjured some thoughts about the current situation raveling in the muslim world, more particularily in Pakistan. This quote:“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us innocent. Not to… See More speak is to speak. Not to act is to act ” really does embody what dilemma individuals are facing when they fight against the corrupted ideology of terrorists within their own land. It is one thing when an “enemy” of ones state is outside your ethnocentric community, but it is another when it is brewing within.

    Wow, I went off tangent. Thanks for the article, very thought provoking!

  17. Tom says:

    I notice that the artist went out of his way to make Jesus look mildly stereotypically Jewish. Nice touch.

  18. eliseanne says:

    remember, too, that Bonhoeffer did not ask for God’s blessing when he tried to assassinate Hitler. He did not believe that God would bless what he did, he thought it was wrong, but that he had no other choice.

    more later.

  19. Nathan Sweet says:

    I absolutely love this picture. It reminds me so much of myself. The gospel teaches that we are all Nazis (so to speak) and Jesus wants to take our burdens from us. I love how Jesus holds the burdens as if it is the most natural thing in the world.

  20. elderj says:

    I see Jesus walking along with a man, a soldier perhaps, and identifying with him and carrying his load. It is a lonely road they travel though and no destination is in view, so the outcome of the conversation is uncertain.

    Unlike some here, I am not a pacifist; I am far from it and there is not moral equivalence between the regime of National Socialism and American-ism. There are not degrees of sin in the essence, but certainly there are difference in the evil perpetrated by these states. The core ideology of National Socialism (and Soviet Socialism) is atheistic, dehumanizing and an idolatrous glorification of the state as the embodiment of the people at the expense of the human person.

  21. Carol Fenton says:

    It appears Jesus has taken the weight of the soldiers rifle from him, which would be a terrible weight to carry, wouldn’t it? I’m sure there were soldiers who questioned what they were doing and how they could help the resistance vs rounding up Jews or shooting the enemy. Who else could they turn to in complete trust, but Jesus?

  22. Eugene Cho says:

    It must just be me.

    When I first saw the image, I just assumed that the other character was Hitler and to be honest…

    it angered me.

    I know. I know.

    But if I’m honest, it just angered me and reminded me of this conversation I had during the seminary years when someone speculated that it was possible that Hitler would be in heaven…

    • eliseanne says:

      not just you.

      to be honest, at a glance i didnt notice the soldier was Nazi-era, and i rolled my eyes and assumed it was a jesus-is-pro-us-military-might-and-us-centric type thing a la things we have seen before.

      but, knowing your blog, i made sure to look again and read what you and others wrote. now i am messed up.

      I dont like how comfortable Jesus looks with the rifle and pack. I do like how he appears to be reasoning with the guy. I’m angry if someone is suggesting Jesus would join the guy in his violence.

      I’ve read that Hitler thought he was acting in God’s will. That maybe he thought he was saved. Maybe this is Jesus being like, “what the heck are you thinking?!” with him and taking away his rifle and pack. As someone else said, the concept of Jesus returning it to him angers me too.

      So the author says it is about personal forgiveness…yeah that turns me off too. Maybe it is because I dont think that just saying a prewritten prayer ‘saves’ people anymore…

      my rambling angered/confused thoughts.

  23. Steven says:

    Eugene,

    If we believe in the universality of Grace then we must believe that it is POSSIBLE for someone like Hitler to be forgiven and accepted into God’s Kingdom. The even bigger question for me has been; is it possible for Satan to be forgiven and embraced into God’s Kingdom????

  24. Solomon says:

    What happens when the rifle and bag is to be handed back to the Nazi at the end of the extra mile? There is no guarantee the the Nazi will change his ways after walking two miles with Christ, just as Dietrich Bonhoeffer cites (in “The Cost of Discipleship”) the problem of the rich young man as a failure to follow Christ vs. solely living an aesetic life. I can’t help but see that Jesus is making a proposition of discipleship to the Nazi. At the same time, I wonder what we are to do with those who may choose to take up arms knowing they are in opposition to Christ’s way of peace, or even worse, those who do violence in Christ’s name. We know it is Christ’s nature to seek disciples who genuinely desire to follow him, but we also know there’s difficulty in engaging those who choose not to follow – especially when it is costs the lives of others. To know Christ may hand the weapon back is frightening, as frightening as knowing I am given power to continue or stop violence. To know Christ gives the Nazi freedom of choice is frightening, as frightening as knowing I am given freedom of choice. To know Christ lavishes grace upon the Nazi and me is just as frightening and amazing.

  25. Steve says:

    I live in a culture, where, because of my wife’s stand against corruption, we have been targeted by powerful people, who kill without thinking about it. I have struggled with this, and have told the Lord I will never carry a gun, but will physically protect my wife by interceding with any would be harmful person, and put my body in the way. That is the little joke that I have with God, in that I asked to please go home a long time ago, and He said no. So, now, I tease Him with my “desire for martyrdom”

    Resisting evil with evil just does not work, as Bonhoeffer found out.

    Waiting til evil is as powerful as the Nazis got creates that crisis. Speak out against, and resist injustice TODAY!!!!

    P.S. The government here has provided her with 24 hour police protection. We didn’t even ask them for it.

    • Eugene Cho says:

      Thanks for sharing that.

      Can you share where you guys are working? Or general country?

      • Steve says:

        Yes. I can share. Pardon my rant, but…

        Sadly, it is not a “closed” Muslim country, but one where the evangelical population is close to 50% and the Catholic church comprise the majority of the other 50%. If any country could be called Christian, this one could be. There is a superficial veneer, and the word of God is all over, in churches on every corner of every little town, and praise music and preaching on many radio stations all day. The word of God is all over.

        Yet the Human trafficking, and Government corruption, and violence are all the highest, I believe, in this hemisphere. And there are the deepest pockets of poverty here, although Haiti is said to be generally poorer.

        In some ways, it seems that the evangelical church is more of a hindrance, than a help to the transformation God is doing.

        And they are building a church building purported to have a $50,000,000 price tag.

        And indifference to the needs of your neighbor would seem to be the commandment upon which all the others hang. This plays out in a silent acceptance of profligate corruption in the Congress, and judiciary and police, and violence in the streets. Because this corruption affects a person by their needing the money for bribes to navigate these systems, and money to hire private security, the poor are the only ones who truly suffer the injustice. I have often wondered if that is what Jesus meant when He spoke of “Good news to the poor” … that there would not be an indifference on the part of the wealthy in a society.

        And, the place is crawling with Christian Missionaries and NGO’s.

        It could be the perfect case study for a book I just read: “When Helping Hurts” by the Chalmers Center.

        The Word is all over Guatemala( did you guess?), but it has not become flesh. No meat on those dry bones. The churches wall themselves off from the needs of the society that an interesting phenomenon just occurred. On Sunday, Norma Cruz was named by the National Press as Person of the year. Full front page picture, and 4 page story. You in the states may not have heard of her, although she was awarded a person of courage medal by Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama last year, which in this small country should have at least given her name recognition. She campaigns for the most disenfranchised of the country. Those Jesus called His little brothers, and pretty much said that how you treat them will determine if you enter Heaven. Yet, yesterday, as I spoke with one of the leaders of a large and truly progressive movement in the Evangelical church, he had no idea who she was.

        Somehow it reminded me of the discussions of racism here. The absolute blindness of the privileged group, and the agoraphobic church.

        The blindness is stultifying…and in a way might show how the church allowed Hitler to grow in Germany. After all, I am not a Jew, or a Gypsy, or Polish, or indigenous, or homeless, or so poor I have to ride a city bus ( THE most dangerous activity in Guatemala City, per capita)

        That’s why I feel an urgency to resist injustice today. And why we are completely isolated from the evangelical churches in these endeavors. But we endeavor in hope. Someone once said it is darkest just before dawn, and I believe we are on the verge of something amazing. If the evangelical church will just “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!”

        Please, Don’t send short term teams to build houses for widows…send the money you would have spent, if you want to help, as there are plenty of very good unemployed construction workers here…so many that many are there!…

        PRAY for Guatemala! Pray for a new brokenness and compassion on the part of God’s people.

        Sorry for the length!

  26. numina says:

    Beautiful discussion here. I can’t say I have an answer to the question right now, though I struggle, as others do, with pacifist convictions in light of genocide and I agree that inaction is a form of action. What strikes me about this picture is the peace that surrounds the two men; the gentle connection between them, the relief of the soldier’s burden to fight and kill, and the safety of having the rifle on Jesus’s shoulder. The one who would have killed Jesus the Jew is now receiving the Christ into his life.

  27. Sg says:

    How would exchanging the rifle for a suicide bomber’s belt / German soldier for a young man of Arab decent / and perhaps the pack for explosive underwear impact your reaction to the image?

    • Sg, Interesting question. While your suggestion makes sense of the Artist own interpretation of the art piece, it raises a question I hadn’t thought of given not only my interpretation of the image, but my interpretation of the “extra-mile” saying of Jesus. I don’t see that passage as being about forgiveness, and oddly enough think the artist by giving us the commentary limits the meaning of the image (so much for artist intent!) As the image stands it fits more or less with the most probable historical context of the saying: carrying the pack and weapons of a soldier of the empire, a confusing act of generosity that potentially opens the soldier to conversion but also hightens the reality of oppression. the soldier is an agent of the state, and thus in the sense of a Nazi soldier the state as oppressor and state sponsored terrorism (though Nationalist Socialist are not the only states who oppress etc.)

      Your twist on the image presses the question of to what degree is “extra” mile dealing with violence verses state oppression. A suicide bomber isn’t the agent of a state or an oppressive imperial system, like a Roman Soldier and a Nazi soldier was.

      So, if i recognized this revised image as an attempted interpretation of “extra mile” saying I would experience the dissonance of the violent reaction of the oppressed in the place of the state or imperial oppressor. If the “extra mile” means that we are to embarrass the State and imperial system and its agents by going beyond their petty oppressive demands in a nonviolent way, then how do we meet the demands of the oppressed who wish to make change through violent self-sacrificial means? Leads me to wonder if there is something in the two cloaks saying as understood by Luke, and not Matthew? Ya, I don’t know I’d find it a strange and baffeling image.

    • Sg says:

      More time today to comment. New to this and not sure I’m doing this right..? Anyway seeing this image and the timing of seeing it for me is what has prompted me to jump in.

      I’m a very visual dude and I love the image. I aspire to do this sort of thing with photography, very cool!

      I appreciate the comments of others and what “they see” in the image.

      At first encounter I was touched by the heart of Jesus that I saw reaching out to the “enemy” with such warmth and sincerity. And of course I was convicted of falling short personally on that front. But for me a picture is “worth a thousand words” and this almost elementary teaching (love your enemies) of Christ’s was DRIVEN HOME for me afresh and for that I am thankful!

      A secondary thought surfaced for me as well…

      How would exchanging the rifle for a suicide bomber’s belt / German soldier for a young man of Arab decent / and perhaps the pack for explosive underwear impact your reaction to the image?

      It’s like there is this convergence of things for me in the tricked out version of the image I decribed…

      Political Correctness (which in the interest of transparency I acknowledge I do loath)

      Profiling is wrong? Yet standing where we do today in history it’s OK to assume the soldier in the image is a “bad guy” because of the way things have turned out. What if PC were in play back in WW II? Would the people who were convicted of war crimes have been spoken of in terms of “allegedly” or “suspected”? As in “suspected war criminal”?

      Is the Dutch gentleman who forcibly engaged with the “suspected underwear bomber” on board the Christmas Day flight into Detroit guilty of NOT loving his enemy? Just how do we balance loving enemies with laying our lives down for friends? Can we learn from the past?

      What challenges we face today!

  28. Matt Algren says:

    I *love* this image. Certainly there’s the carrying burdens image mixed with carrying the soldier’s pack a second mile, but there are a few other “Easter Eggs”:

    * The rifle. Jesus has taken the Nazi soldier’s weapon. Or is it that the soldier has given up his weapon to Jesus?

    * The parable of the sower. The road is dry and cracked, the berm is covered with thorny bushes. A LOT of thorny bushes, mostly on the soldier’s side of the road. Apparently Jesus has walked this road before with different results.

    * The Nazi soldier’s uniform. Swastika aside, it’s perfectly pressed. His boots are shined so well there’s a reflection in the left one. He’s done his very best to clean himself up, and it hasn’t been good enough.

    * The Nazi soldier is about 3/4 of a step from being in step with Jesus, but slightly ahead.

    * The shadow on the road indicates an incline in the Nazi soldier’s favor. That is, Jesus has lowered himself to talk with this man.

    * Notice how large the shadow of the Nazi soldier’s right foot is, the step he’s just about to take.

    Fantastic. One of my new favorites.

    (Also, Jesus needs some conditioner.)

  29. Rev Tony Buglass says:

    The soldier may be a Nazi, but he’s a human being. Jesus is talking to him, and treating him like a human being. Lots of Nazis were members of the Party or in uniform because they were ‘sucked in’ to ‘defending their country’ – they weren’t all card-carrying anti-Semitic villains. War dehumanises and demonises.

    The Stauffenberg bomb plot in July 1944 wasn’t the first attempt to get rid of Hitler. Bonhoeffer was friendly with Bishop George Bell (Chichester) through prewar ecumenical links. In 1942 German church leaders got word to Bell asking to meet in neutral Stockholm. He was able to fly here in a BOAC Mosquito – the Germans informed him that there was a strong enough Christian anti-Nazi resistance to overthrow Hitler, install a revolutionary Government, and bring the war to an end. They only needed an assurance that the Allies would treat the new Government with honour. Bell returned to Britain and informed Churchill, who said no – the Allies had already decided on unconditional surrender as the only acceptable end to the war.

    Now, was this the right thing to do or not? On the one hand, Churchill had no choice: the Big Three had already made a decision, Russia had already suffered terribly, and there was no way Stalin would accept such an easy way out for Germany. On the other hand, the Final Solution had not yet begun and most of Europe’s 6m Jews were still alive. Germany had not yet been bombed to rubble, and the whole set of postwar problems of the Iron Curtain and chaos could have been avoided. Or German hardliners could have played the 1918 stab-in-the-back card again, and sow the seeds of WW3…

    It’s easy to say the bomb plot made things worse. Hitler was already convinced he was appointed by Providence, his survival just underlined it. I doubt it made any material difference to the conduct of the war, although it led to horrific reprisals against anyone remotely connected to Stauffenberg and his colleagues. We weren’t there; we might think we know what we’d have done, but until someone points a gun at your loved ones, and you have a gun in your hand, you don’t know whether you will really take another life.

    • Karl Kroger says:

      I agree with Wink’s work on this passage about it being non-violent resistance. But I like the additional idea of Jesus really engaging the soldier. Like Rev. Buglass said, Jesus is treating the soldier like a human being. So often we hate, kill, or support killing our enemies because we see them as less than human. We forget that all persons are of sacred worth and are created in the image of God.

  30. phil_style says:

    First thing I noticed was that the Nazi was
    1. an officer
    2. in his formal dress.

    The office would not be carrying a pack or a rifle in that dress, and would be issued with a luger firearm, not a rifle. So Jesus must have got the gear from someone else…

    OK that’s a bit tounge-in-cheek.. sorry.

  31. Steve says:

    Thanks, Kyle Nolan, for the link.

    There is a whole gallery there of provocative “Jesus” pictures.

    In speaking of artistic intent, it is interesting to see who the photographer is. Not a pure artist, but an advertising expert. So cool how he cast this crown at Jesus’ feet, and put himself out there to generate exactly the kind of responses we have seen here.

  32. Dan says:

    I found it interesting that we see Jesus and the soldier from the back, as if he has turned his back on something. Jesus talks about how his church will turn people against their own families. Insofar as a military unit often becomes as a family to its members, this man has turned his back on it – to walk up a narrow country road.

  33. […] Eugene Cho ponders a picture. […]

  34. […] I’ve been pondering and reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer – again. His stuff is too good not to read – again and […]

  35. Jon says:

    I think the photo shows one thing. God doesn’t care what you have done in life, he doesn’t look at those who go to church every Sunday but those who repented and gave up their older life to follow God. The rifle and sack is the German Nazi’s who Jesus i willing to carry showing what his past was about and Jesus is willing to talk to u know matter how much u may be hated because of what u done. Look at Paul for an example of the same thing almost.

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One Day’s Wages

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Father - daughters bonding (and freezing) time at the Seahawks game. Grateful to the Panthers organization for the tickets. Now, go Hawks. Pound the Panthers. The family that karaokes together stays together. #ChoFamilyKPopFamily Family time in one of my favorite cities in the world - especially when the exchange rate is so favorable. Thank you, Vancouver, for being such a great refuge for our souls for the past 20 years. #QuestVancouver It's the day after...that day.
Be grateful. Again.
We woke up. We're alive.
Breathing. Dreaming.
Pursuing. Embodying. Loving.

It's never that perfect or easy but that we get to try to do these things is reason enough to be grateful to the One who gives us life.

Yes. Be grateful.
That you, Jesus.
#PreachingToMyself This is what real life looks like after a crazy couple weeks. Grateful for this woman. I love her. She's gonna scream at me for posting this pic. #ThoseSocksThough Grateful for the opportunity to encourage 2500 youth leaders & pastors at the @youthspecialties conference in Cincinnati, Ohio. Had prayed for wisdom to encourage leaders and courage to navigate a word for leaders post election about empathy and compassion for the unseen, marginalized, and those experiencing real fear.

Also, what a joy to have my church's youth pastor, @cobycagle, also here teaching. Some years ago, I was a youth pastor for several years in California, Korea, NY, and NJ. They were meaningful years but filled with challenges and loneliness. Sometimes, I felt unseen and insignificant - in comparison to "real" adult ministry. As a lead pastor now, I want to make sure I don't make those mistakes of overlooking our youth and children's ministry and their volunteers and staff. 
Pastor Coby, Pastor Katey, Pam, Jalle, and Jasmin: We see you. We appreciate you. We are grateful for your presence and leadership at Quest and beyond. Thank you and all of our amazing volunteers

my tweets

  • RT @EugeneCho: We wait for Christ to return to restore all things but while we wait, we join and partner with God to work towards that rest… || 13 hours ago
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