Recently there was a sermon series at my church, and each sermon was based on a unique photograph of Jesus. Michael Belk spent most of his life as an accomplished fashion photographer, but he reached a point of disillusionment with his success and returned to Christian faith that he had neglected for years. He decided he wanted to somehow honor Christ with his skills, and embarked on a unique photography project.
He went to an ancient city in Italy, found Italian actors to assist him, and created a series of photographs that feature a traditional looking Jesus of 2,000 years ago posing/interacting with modern individuals. The photographs all have a sepia tint. I was particularly touched by the photographs that brought the parables of Jesus to life.
The web site for the photography is: Journeys with the Messiah. On the last Sunday of the sermon series, Michael Belk himself came and spoke with us. He told some of his personal story, as well as some of the details behind these unique photographs. Everyone involved with this project in Italy was impacted by it.
I’ll describe several of the photographs that particularly moved me. One featured Jesus sitting at a modern restaurant table. A modern looking man is walking away with 7 loaves of bread overflowing in his hands, and Jesus is laughing at him. The Lord’s prayer says “give us this day our daily bread” yet it is hard for us to trust God in this way. Isn’t it? We want more than daily bread, but rather want an ample provision for many days to come.
Another photograph was based on the parable of the rich young ruler. This again featured a traditional Jesus with ancient looking surroundings, but he is talking to a modern rich man in expensive clothing and next to a flashy sports car.
Finally, perhaps the most controversial photograph of them all, features Jesus walking along a dirt road with a WWII Nazi next to him. This is about forgiveness. No one is beyond redemption. And we too should forgive those who have wronged us.
See the gallery of photographs here, and peruse them for yourself, as so many of them are poignant in one way or another.