The Adoration Of The Kings 2
‘BEHOLD THE LAMB OF GOD’
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem,
saying, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him."
So let us now look at this work with the eyes of the faithful, in the full knowledge and experience of scripture and see what is revealed.
Jan Gossaert’s painting is a Biblical thesis – on the surface a statement of the Adoration by the Three Wise Men of the infant Jesus – but behind this a rich and powerful exposition of some Biblical truths. But are they truths?
The angels, shepherds and stable are only mentioned in Luke’s gospel. No one anywhere mentions the ox and the ass, nor are the visitors described as ‘kings’. Somewhere along the line, visual artists have drawn their own interpretation from the scripture, and we have learned the vision, and forgotten the words.
But just as the Bible writers – guided by the Holy Spirit – weaved their tales and prophecies and references to reveal the mystery of Christ, so Artists have used some of their own conventions and devices to give visual form to Christian ideas.
The donkey or ass had an interpretation as a beast of burden – and notably was ridden by Jesus when he entered Jerusalem towards the end – the beast of burden bearing the greatest of all burdens – He who was to bear the sins of all mankind. So it would be appropriate to show the ass as present at the birth of Christ as a reminder of the end of the story and ‘cross-reference’ within the picture – and who is to say there wasn’t a donkey there anyway?
And shepherds? They’re plausible too. The shepherd would always be present at the birth of The Lamb. And was not Jesus that ‘great shepherd of the sheep’ according to Paul?
We must at all times remember that – even if the events described in Scripture are literally true — it is unimportant. It is what the spirit of the words says to the spirit in us that counts. Christ himself speaking to the Christ in us. And if the Holy Spirit speaks Truth to us from a painting then God’s work is being done to bring us closer in our relationship to Jesus.
MEDITATE ON THESE THINGS
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
This is He of whom I said, 'After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.'
I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water."
BEHOLD THE LAMB OF GOD — G F Handel (“Messiah”)
PRAYER requires CONCENTRATION
GET TO WORK and seek, narrow your interests to this one thing. Have you ever really sought God, or have you only given a languid cry to Him after a twinge of moral neuralgia?
[from ‘Our Brilliant Heritage’ by Oswald Chambers]
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COMING NEXT… (487) THE ADORATION OF THE KINGS 3
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GEORGE and GILL STEWART