12/11/10 | Posted by MattPage
For many years that record belonged to the Cristo de la Concordia (Christ of Unity) statue in Bolivia. At at 133 ft tall it’s over a tenth of the height of the Empire State Building and more than twice as tall as the Angel of the North. Brazil’s more famous Christ the Redeemer statue is a mere 125ft. However, the new statue, called ‘Christ the King’, measures a massive 167 ft when its plinth is taken into consideration and towers above the medieval market town.
The idea for the statue came from 78 year old Roman Catholic priest Sylwester Zawadzki. “This is the culmination of my life’s work as a priest” exclaimed Father Zawadzki, “I’ve never been as happy as I am today”. Hundreds of people turned up to witness the statue’s finishing touches being completed.
Others however were less impressed. One local villager described the piece as “tacky” whilst another complained that the money should have been spent more wisely. “With all this money, we would have done better to build an elementary school.”
Such words echo one of the stories about Jesus that’s found in the Bible (Mark 14:3-9). All four gospels tell of a woman who pours ointment on Jesus and is criticised. Whilst the details vary between the different accounts, at least three of them say that she is criticised for not selling the ointment and giving the money to the poor. Jesus, however, defends her, saying “The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me” (Mark 14:7).
Whether this response can also be used to justify 167ft tall statues of Jesus is another matter. For one thing, it’s easy to overlook the context in which these words were spoken. To the majority of the people in the room, this woman was not welcome. Luke tells us that she was known to have had sinful life and she may have been the only woman in the room. Yet despite the fact she was highly likely to get criticised, she still tried to do something for Jesus that was generous and kind.
When the inevitable happens, Jesus steps in and backs her up. After all, it wasn’t like the problem of poverty was going to disappear any time soon (and, in fact, it didn’t). Jesus’ words support a vulnerable woman trying to do her best for him. They were not intended to give a green light to any and every expression of adoration no matter how costly.
That said throughout history Jesus’ followers have built extravagant expressions of their worship from the cathedrals and churches that dominated the British landscape for years to come, to works of art such as the Last Supper. If Jesus is who he claims to be then you can understand why some people continue to want to demonstrate their gratitude to him in the grandest way they can think of.
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You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, ...
for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened.
Claiming to be wise, they became fools;
and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.
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