The painting to the left is a work by the artist Sigismund Christian Hubert Goetze. It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words but if you look closely you will realize the impossibility of giving even a faint idea of its power and awful significance with words from a people who refuse to recognize their Savior.
This is traditionally a time that we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ. It is the time of the Angels singing on high and joy and goodwill to all mankind. Trees are going up and strings of colored lights decorate our homes and even our cities! Children’s faces are aglow with anticipation of Santa, presents under the tree and there seems so little time to get everything done. The shopping malls will soon be full of shoppers, pushing, rushing from one store to another and if you look carefully there are few smiles of joy. For many the pressures of the season overwhelm them. In the city where I live there are a number of homeless encampments within hearing distance of the canned Christmas music that is being played everywhere. There will be the usual laments about Christ being taken out of Christmas even though the facts are plain, Christmas is a Christian thing celebrating the birth of Christ. That being said it is worth noting “Many popular customs associated with Christmas developed independently of the commemoration of Jesus’ birth, with certain elements having origins in pre-Christian festivals that were celebrated around the winter solstice by pagan populations who were later converted to Christianity.” As we make our way back to the painting I must share with you this scripture from Isaiah 53: 3-5….
He was despised and rejected by others;
a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity;
and as one from whom others hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him of no account
This chapter foretells the sufferings of the Messiah, the reason he did so and for which he died. The Jews were not impressed by this poorly dressed man and his humble appearance and manners. He would suffer for sins not his own, giving to us the gift of salvation. When you can, please read Isaiah 53: 1-11.
According to an article on the painting in The Literary Digest, “‘At the exhibition of the Royal Academy in London, the great canvas by Sigismund Goetze … has created an artistic sensation.’ It is declared to be a ‘powerful and terribly realistic presentment of Christ’ in a modern setting.”
The complete link to this article will be posted at the end of this blog*. I cannot emphasize how important it is for you to go there and read the entire article. Overwhelmed by the season we are unable to see the real gift, the good news if you will, hidden amongst bright-colored ribbons and Christmas wrappings of red and green, mankind’s only hope for redemption and salvation. The painting of course goes past that to the end result. Why in this time of celebration and great joy would I take us there? Simply put, we have the book, the word and yet we are the mirror image of the people in that painting. Going about our business, caught up in our importance, so rushed with life we can only spare a couple of hours out of this season to note the gift of our salvation coming among us. Go to the link and copy that picture, print it and post it, let every image in it be burnt into your mind. There among a heedless crowd, bound by ropes upon a pedestal stands the Christ. Do our actions say “it is nothing to me”?
To Christians Christmas is not a season, it is the presentation of the gift of the Father to his children in the person of the Christ child, a promise of hope, life and goodwill to all men.
Life is Good