Lenten Art Reflection: "Forgive"

Eugene Kim
Feb 20, 2018

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."

Luke 23:34a

Edvard Munch, Golgotha, 1900

In Golgotha, the crucified Christ, set against a dark sky, rises above a swirling sea of humanity. Munch’s bright colors and electric lines are characteristic of Expressionism, a modern art movement focused on personal experience and human emotion. Munch represented the full range of raw, unchecked feeling, from grief (the shrouded women at the right) to maliciousness (the leering, mask like face in the front row). At the back, the people become a claustrophobic jumble of faces and limbs.

Throughout his life, Munch, who shared his father’s Christian faith, struggled with overwhelming doubt and guilt. Art historians have written that Christ’s face in this painting resembles the artist’s own, suggesting that Munch personally identified with Jesus’s suffering.

For Reflection:

  1. When we find it hard to forgive someone, we may feel a desire for them to know and feel the guilt of all they have done. Yet, Christ’s forgiveness extends even to those who “do not know what they are doing.” How does Christ’s forgiveness challenge your understanding of forgiveness?

  2. We are often unaware of the hurts, fears, and insecurities in us that lead us to sin, self protection, and even harm towards others. Invite the Holy Spirit to guide you into a deeper and more compassionate awareness of the brokenness that resides in you. Take 4-5 minutes to reflect on your own sin and shortcomings (you can sit in silence, take a walk, or journal).

  3. Allow yourself some time, free of distractions, to hold and feel your soul’s longing for God’s love and healing. Out of that longing, is there a way God might be inviting you to respond to Him today, whether in faith or in some form of obedience?


Father, forgive me, for I am often unaware of what I do and why. You know me fully and perfectly, yet you love me with compassion and grace. As your beloved child in Christ, may I receive your forgiveness more deeply today and walk in the freedom to forgive others in Jesus’ Name. Amen.