Warning: I am not an art critic and I never took an art history or appreciation class in school. I have yet to see the Sistine Chapel.
Rembrandt, Renoir, Degas, Van Gough, Monet, Sargeant, Copely, Stuart, Whistler. These are just a few of the masters whose works I spent hours taking this past Thursday. An exhibit of Degas and the nude figure demonstrated his early ability to sketch his subjects with almost photographic accuracy. It was later that he resisted drawing faces and focused on conveying meaning and emotion through the human form in motion. Sargeant’s subjects demonstrated fairly passive faces while communicating the person’s character through their gaze. The famous Boston portrait artist, Copely (known for his famous depiction of Paul Revere) captured the curiosity, energy and joy in the facial expression and eyes of John Quincy Adams so well that his mother, Abigail Adams praised the artist for having captured the spirit of her son on canvas.
Throughout history, artists spent their lives in the pursuit of conveying the mystery behind their human subjects. Why then, have the paintings of Jesus not moved me as did the paintings of mere mortals, art critic hack that I am? Perhaps Hebrews 1 reveals the reason. Consider verse 3:
The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.
With respect to history’s masters, since the very person of Jesus is the spirit of God, his very essence in human form, what artist could possibly capture his magnificence and glory in paint? In reading Scripture, there appears to me to be another medium the Master works with. That is you and I, his church. No matter how unworthy we know we are, how messy of our lives are, we are the canvasses through which he chooses to reveal his glory. His grace transforms the ordinary.
And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18.
I want to sing the praises of the God who is faithful to complete His work in us!