This is part three of four blogs on my Archetypes series. Parts one and two may be viewed here:
The demon possessed man has no name in the Bible. However, Legion, the demons who possessed him are quite well known. Legion has been portrayed over and over in literature and in horror movies. But what about the man? At the beginning of the story he is roaming naked in a cemetery, yelling, and cutting himself. Demon possession in the Bible is perplexing. Is it an antiquated interpretation of psychological disorder, or is it something else? Is there something spiritual about chemical balance? These are not simple questions.
I chose to paint the man at the end of his encounter with Christ because the man didn’t really meet Christ until after the legion went into the pigs. Before that, the man was not in his own mind.
My model was a man named Scott Beaty. He is an amazing artist, a veteran, and a good friend. He modeled for me after he had spent several hours carving marble. I wanted him to look like he was resting after a great burden. The painting is a sigh of relief. In this series, the characters react to Jesus emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually. This one is physical.
The man in the story was not concerned with eternal happiness or salvation, but his life on earth was eased. I think this relates well with people who find refuge in faith from anxiety, depression, and fear. Regardless of the next life, faith can have benefits for mental health in this life.
Ironically, after the man was returned to his right mind the people of the town made Jesus leave because they were afraid of him.
Pilate was one of the few agnostics in the Bible. The light in this image comes from below, because Pilate felt that he was above Christ. Determining the truth about Jesus was beneath him. Religion was not his specialty, so he closed his eyes to the issue for someone else to deal with. Politics were more important to him than faith.
Christians believe that matters of the soul are the most important topics to consider. Atheists believe that matters of this life are all that exist. Agnostics are in a strange middle position. They believe there may or may not be more than this life. If there is then it is very important, but if there isn’t then it’s a waste of time to contemplate it. Being torn between these two world views makes them close their eyes to the entire debate and let someone else worry about it for the time being. Besides, it’s not their area of specialty.
Jairus’ daughter is the only child in the series. When I finished it my painting instructor said, “It just looks like any sick girl. If you didn’t tell me then I wouldn’t even know she was from the Bible.” He thought I wouldn’t like that, but I was delighted. It really hit on the point of the series. At a glance these paintings could be anyone, and what they represent is obscure without some frame of reference. I want them to represent how the characters in the Bible are only antiquated by the way we think of them. We tend to picture old men with gray beards, but the stories incorporate the young, old, men, women, rich and poor. If Jesus walked the earth today, he would get many of the same reactions to his teachings.
This painting touches on one of the most difficult things for a person of faith to comprehend, which is the deaths of innocent children. Jairus’ daughter died young. However, it seems to be Jairus who is truly suffering.
When Jesus says the girl is only sleeping they laughed at him, but when she returned to life it was a celebration. It symbolizes for me a person who is returned to their former innocence at the expense of their former self. For example, an alcoholic who uses faith to help him quit drinking has a renewal. The person that they were dies to make way for a new and healthier person. People might laugh at you for saying that faith can help them become sober, but when they actually stop drinking and rebuild their life it is a celebration.
Thank you for reading! The next and last blog about this series will be posted next week!