Here’s a painting that’s changed the world.
It’s by Belgian surrealist Renee Magritte of a man in a hat with a green apple where his face should be. You can tell it was painted in the 1960s, because when you look at it, you wonder, “What was that guy on?”
Magritte said that the painting was intended to capture that feeling that we all have that there’s something more than what we can see, something behind the visible. We feel it every time we try to communicate and feel that we’re not getting our message across. Know what that feels like? If not, date someone. You’ll experience it.
I was content to give the painting a quick glance and then walk away, but I saw the title of the painting: The Son of Man. That’s a title that is distinctively Judeo-Christian. Daniel uses it in a prophecy about a coming savior, and Jesus takes up the term for himself to refer to his humanity, which often veiled his divinity. So then I wondered at the religious possibilities. An apple has a well-publicized connection to the Christian faith. Adam and Eve ate one and were kicked out of Eden. The Bible doesn’t actually say that the
forbidden fruit was an apple, but the Latin word for apple tree, malus, is also the Latin word for evil, so the play on words contributed to medieval artistic portrayals of the garden.
The apple represents the Fall, the brokenness of the world. And that is the thing that stops us from seeing the Son of Man. His disciples missed it, his family missed it, certainly his enemies missed it. God walked the earth and we couldn’t see him, because we were blinded by our own brokenness, by the Fall.
Coincidentally, Beatles’ member Paul McCartney bought one of Magritte’s paintings of an apple and named his record company Apple Corps (a play on “apple core”). Another young hipster who loved the Beatles started up a computer company and named it after McCartney’s record company – Apple Computers.
So that little icon on your iPhone is courtesy of a Belgian agnostic who couldn’t quite find God, but had a sense that the brokenness of the world stood in the way of us seeing him. Think about that when you see the Apple logo. It sits over devices that are supposed to allow you to see most of the knowledge in the world. And yet, because of human brokenness, we’ll never quite see it right. It’s only because God breaks through our brokenness and saves us that we can ever see.