Have you ever examined a piece of art? Ever studied the work and admired the details?
Earlier this year I got to visit the Art Institute of Chicago. As an art enthusiast, I was amazed! So much talent, history, beauty and absurdity in one building. On a personal level, I gravitate toward the Impressionist movement, with its nature scenes, sunrises, and sunsets. It’s interesting, though, to consider the many significant works depicting Jesus.
There is the laughing Jesus, crying Jesus, praying Jesus, distraught-in-the-garden Jesus; there is Jesus feeding thousands, Jesus teaching children, Jesus sleeping on a boat, Jesus walking on water; there is Jesus betrayed, Jesus crucified, Jesus resurrected and lots of sweet baby Jesus figures.
Most of these pictures have something in common. Jesus glows. Have you ever noticed that before? Jesus seems always to have a certain glow or shine about him. He looks a little brighter than the folks in the artwork alongside him. Have you seen this? Does anyone else find this interesting?
We’ve got to wonder what these different artists were trying to communicate with a glowing Jesus, because people don’t glow under normal circumstances. Truth be told, there is the post-tanning-bed glow, a mother-to-be or bride-to-be glow; but generally, people do not shine, as artists have captured Jesus in so many works of art.
As Christians, we affirm that Jesus was fully human and fully God. He was part of the general people of humanity, as well as altogether set-apart, because he was also divine. This strange claim of a dual nature, a God-man, is difficult to explain and capture with words. We Christ-followers make the claim, but often struggle to articulate any justification. Sometimes there are no words!
It’s exactly in these moments I appreciate the language of art and its ability to communicate without words. We may never know the reasons Jesus glows in art, but I like to believe it’s a testament of faith: a glowing Jesus makes the claim that Jesus was human, but a different kind of human—God-made-human. The fullness of God in Christ overflows as a powerful light shining through a humble man.
As a redeemed and redeeming community, we too share in that light. So I must ask: when do you glow? When can you identify the light and life of God in Christ so powerfully in your own life that you glow with joy or peace or kindness? If you are a part of a local church, when does your church glow? When do we most represent or reflect to the community a hope of new life, of resurrection?
Just as importantly: when do we acknowledge the light in others? Friends, God continues at work in our world—in our everyday ordinary lives—to transform life into kingdom life. Wherever God is at work, there glows a powerful witness to God’s presence. May we be faithful to shine that light, and by doing so, may we bring out the colors of God’s world for those who live in darkness!