My friend reminded me that the Bible’s “Word of God” is one way to experience Cod’s Creation, Forgiveness, & Reconciliation with Man. Another, is Sunday Service homilies. For centuries, “Art” served that purpose. My friend hopes that the beauty & truth of the 2 paintings will express the reality of God’s companionship. He hopes that they open minds, soften hearts, and touch souls. That’s what makes these paintings, priceless.
Michelangelo’s magnificent Sistine Chapel portrayal of the “Creation of Man” – A powerful fatherly figure pointing His finger toward a perfectly formed man, who is pointing his finger upward toward the Father – captures the essence of man being made in the image & likeness of God.
Man was also created with “Free Will”. Satan exists. Adam sinned. And the perfect relationship with God was broken. Satan stirs the Pride, Lust, Greed, Anger, etc. that fester in the soft underbelly of our humanity. So, our souls suffer the thousands cuts of compromise & rationalization that turn our face from God. The Son of God came to restore the original relationship, of “Children of God” and “Heirs of Heaven”. That restored relationship requires Faith in God and love of others. Man, frequently fails to do those things. Repentance is required to maintain the restored relationship. Repentance requires the humility & gratitude portrayed in the painting, “The Prodigal Son”.
Rembrandt’s poignant painting of the “Prodigal Son” – A forgiving Father’s unconditional love portrayed by placing both of his hands (The masculine left hand & the feminine right hand) on the shoulders of a penitent, worthless son, under the harsh, self-righteous glare of an indignant son & brother – captures the essence of God’s unilateral, unconditional love for His progeny.
(Perhaps, in Rembrandt’s attic, there is a second painting.)
The 2nd painting portrays the father hugging the self-righteous son, who is bitter and angry at his father’s love and forgiveness, The “Good” Son stayed home, obeyed the rules, and did the tasks. The Father hugged the “Good” Son, too, whispering into his ear, “There is no limit to my love & mercy. I want all my children to enjoy the peace & prosperity of my home. Not measured by performance, but, by progeny. Their relationship with me is restored for the asking, through genuine repentance.
There is no limit to the number of times that a person can ask God to, “Create in me a new, clean heart.” No sin, no matter how vile or frequent, can exceed the forgiveness, of the welcoming embrace, of the outstretched arms, of the Redemptive Cross.
“Quoted Excerpts” taken from “Web Gallery of Art”:
“Rembrandt’s power of realism is increased by psychological insight and spiritual awareness. Expressive lighting and coloring, together with simplicity of setting, convey the full impact of the event. The occurrence is raised to a solemn calm, not subject to changes in time. The father’s features tell of a goodness, sublime and august.”
“The painting is a symbol of all homecoming, of the darkness of human existence illuminated by tenderness, of weary mankind taking refuge in the shelter of God’s mercy.”
Combined, both paintings portray the essence of man and his purpose for existence.