I have received a great gift. A friend from Romania sent me a beautiful icon which he painted especially for me. I am so blessed with this image and his generous friendship. I love this icon. It is so beautiful.
It arrived a short while ago.
I was able to find relatively little about the prototype of this image in my reference materials. I learned that it is used in the Orthodox Church during the first service on Palm Sunday. It portrays the unselfish, all-giving love of Christ for His bride, the Church.
The Scriptural base of this image– Matthew 27: 27-31—“Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus inside the praetorium and gathered the whole cohort around him. They stripped off His clothes and threw a scarlet military cloak about Him. Weaving a crown out of thorns, they placed it on His head, and a reed in His right hand. And kneeling before Him, they mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They spat upon Him and took the reed and kept striking Him on the head. And when they had mocked Him, they stripped Him of the cloak, dressed Him in His own clothes, and led Him off to crucify Him.
You might notice that in this image, compared to Western paintings of the passion of Christ, Jesus is depicted without blood or overt suffering. The Orthodox tradition does not emphasize the suffering of Christ so much as it does His glory, dignity, and triumph over death. The teaching is the same, east or west, but the emphasis is different. As in all icons, the image is quiet and powerful, expressing no emotion but simply being present to the viewer.
Some of my own thoughts:
As I look at this icon, I see Christ humbly enduring mockery and ridicule. Here in this country, we Christians are not likely to be subjected to physical torture and death, but we are very likely to experience mockery, ridicule, marginalization and rejection. We face humiliation and exclusion, being the butt of jokes. These are the forms that martyrdom takes in our culture. I pray for the grace, courage and strength to remain strong in faith and trust in God.
The Lord’s hands are bound–in the position/gesture that symbolizes humility in icons. He is silent and gives Himself over because of my sins. His fingers are extended in a gesture of blessing despite what is being done to Him. His bound hands speak of imprisonment, as well as submission and humility.
It is a sorrowful icon, and my reflections here are gloomy, but it also reminds me to focus on the hopes realized 3 days after Christ’s Passion. And in that sense, the icon is not a sad image but one filled with hope and a love that cannot be conquered by evil.
My icon has been blessed by my pastor, and occupies a place of honor in my home. I promised the iconographer that I would pray for him daily, and each day I do indeed lift him up in prayer to the Lord for all of his intentions and needs.