Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "O Come And Mourn With Me Awhile"1 (Lyrics)
Numbers 19:2 – This is the statute of the law which the Lord has commanded, saying, "Speak to the sons of Israel that they bring you an unblemished red heifer in which is no defect and on which a yoke has never been placed." (NASB)
John 19:30 – Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit. (NASB)
In an era of rapidly changing customs and thought patterns, the world of art likewise changes, following trends related to various philosophical worldviews. During my attendance at the college of art from 1961 to 1962, the prevalence of impressionism was slowly waning and new artistic styles were emerging as changing styles became popular: from cubism to surrealism to the beginnings of limitless modernism.
As such a change agent, Salvador Dali, an infamous Spanish painter from Fugueres, Spain, had an immense effect on art and culture. Some say he was a madman, others a genius. His surrealistic art moved beyond reality, using irrational images. Eccentric as he may have been, however, during his surrealistic period, Dali was forced to move back into classical religious mysticism.
Influenced by a sketch by John of the Cross, a Spanish mystic of the counter-reformation during the 1600s, Salvador Dali's "Christ of St. John of the Cross" (1951) became a brilliant masterpiece of the twentieth century. I was not yet a believer, but this painting scornfully withered my deliberate rejection of conventional expertise. Not being spiritually comprehending of its unique, intrinsic value, the content was nevertheless extremely inspirational to me.
Although the interpretation of art is personal and subjective, when I contemplate this important work (which may be viewed here), I believe that Dali has captured the precise split-second when Jesus gave up the ghost at His crucifixion. The point of view is not from below, the way humanity depicts Him, but rather from above, through the eye of the Beholder — God the Father. Noticeably, other important details are missing: There are no visible nails, blood, or crown of thorns. And His sacrifice does not have the imagery of Isaiah 53: pain, suffering, stricken, pierced, and crushed, but is rather stylized as a pure, spotless, unblemished Lamb on an untarnished golden cross, fit to re-enter the undefiled heavenly sphere.
Hebrews 9:11-14 – When Christ appeared as a high priest … through His own blood, He entered the holy place once and for all … [and] through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God. (NASB)
That being said, when we contemplate our Lord's finished work of redemption, we, too, should focus not just on a bruised, beaten body, but on the unblemished Lamb of God, our Saviour, Who takes away the sins of the world, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, our High Priest in a state of perfection. We are therefore reminded of these words:
Matthew 27:54 – The centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus … said, "Truly this was the Son of God!" (NASB)
Prayer: Our Father in heaven, we offer up thanks for giving Your Son as a ransom for many. Help us to stay focused on our unblemished Redeemer. Strengthen and continually fill us, by Your grace and mercy, with the Spirit Whom we so desperately need as our daily sustenance. This we pray, in Jesus' name. Amen.