Monday – Classic Art

There are so many pictures we could consider but here are two that speak to me.

This is by Zurburan (date about 1640) – called ‘Agnus Dei’ or Lamb of God.

It is very realistic, and the legs of the lamb are bound forming the shape of a cross. The creature is helpless – and we see expression in its eyes and its resignation, but is it pain, or sadness, or .. ? In the stark plain back-ground, the lamb is out of its normal environment. There is nothing else for us to see, just the lamb, bound and helpless.

On Good Friday we remember the sacrifice of Jesus: God, the Creator, the Almighty, the willing sacrifice, bound, powerless and ill-treated.

In many ways, I find this picture more powerful and moving than the pictures of the crucifixion – partly because we don’t know what Jesus really looked like, and party because this picture makes us respond – what is our reaction? How do we take that into our prayers, and our understanding of what Jesus has done for us.

Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,

and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,

so he did not open his mouth

All we like sheep have gone astray,

we have all turned to our own way,

and the Lord has laid on him, the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah 53

Here is a second and very different image – it is a small part of the ceiling painted by Michael Angelo in the Sistine Chapel.

It shows God’s finger and the hand of Adam. God is still reaching out to Adam, but there is a separation



The bigger image is here.

You have to look up to see it, and so much of the detail is not really visible to those on the ground. There are all sorts of other figures and the symbolism is complex.

However, in this simple image, we see, visually, that there is both a separation now between God and humanity – which is described in Genesis 3 – and God continues to reach out. You could write hundreds of words to try and “explain” this, but the hand of God reaching out, but separate visualises this vividly.

As I look at the bigger picture God seems to be making more effort than Adam! It is of course only a picture.

We live in a world where we are both separate from God, and where we believe God continues to seek us and be concerned for us. We have a freedom as well as the limitations of life. We can fail to see or heed God’s reaching to us but we are reminded that God is ever searching for us and in Jesus has come to share our life and open the way back to God.