The Alexamenos graffito discovered in 1857 also known as the graffito blasfemo is an inscription carved in plaster on a wall near the Palatine Hill in Rome. It is generally thought to be the earliest known pictorial representation of the crucifixion of Jesus.The crude drawing in no uncertain terms depicts the said Alexamenos worshipping a Bart-Simpson-esque man with a head of an ass. Comical…but sadly blasphemous.
I wonder if Alexamenos was a christian. I wonder if it was a work mate or a former lover who engraved the repugnant inscription. Could it have been a self portrait in his moments of soul searching? Had he been reading that verse that Paul wrote to the greeks in Corinth:
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Cor 1:18 ESV
Had Alexamenos been preaching the word of the cross? Was he an evangelist or a new christian? I wonder. Maybe we are not meant to know.
Today’s modern day evangelical will site a pathetic car bumper sticker saying “God Loves You…” as their best attempt at evangelism and reaching the world around them. Never is there a mention of a cross…sometimes a fish symbol may sneak up as a lapel pin. Nevertheless this in its self cannot be far from the truth. It is a half truth that is left hanging. Whatever happened to preaching Christ crucified? You cannot talk about the love of God without talking about the bloodied cross. The cross was and is an item of shame and contemptuous foolishness both to the Jew and the Gentile. But to those who are saved, it is the gracious love of God displayed.
- God His son not sparing, sent him to die…
The Old Testament said cursed is he who hangs on the tree. It further asserts that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. Jesus went to the accursed cross and had all my sin put on him because He loved me enough to die for me. Surely He has borne my sicknesses and carried my pains, yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for my transgressions, He was bruised for my iniquities, the chastisement for my peace was upon Him, and by His stripes I am healed.
Today when you hear some one say “God loves you”, remember this:
For God so loved so loved the world, that He gave his only son that who ever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life- John 3:16 ESV
In 1859, two years after the discovery of the Alexamenos graffito, Carl Gustav Boberg a Swedish poet was born. Carl, was yet to pen the foundations of the now reknown famous christian hymn How Great Thou Art. I dream of meeting Alexamenos in Heaven one day. I can imagine the emotion in his voice as he belts out that verse of the hymn that goes:
And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing;
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee;
How great Thou art, how great Thou art! – Carl Gustav Boberg
It will probably be at this moment that the penny will drop as the Alexamenos graffito will be re-enacted one more time. Only this time me and Alexamenos will be worshipping his God!