Today at Park Church in Tinton Falls, New Jersey our Pastor kicked off a series entitled “Look Again; the art of seeing Jesus.” The six part series looks at six famous paintings that depict different aspects of the life of Jesus. The first painting in this series is called “The Taking of Christ” and was painted by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio.
The artist captures the scene that was described in Matthew 26: 47-56 and I have included that passage below:
While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.” 49 And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him. 50 Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. 51 And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. 52 Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53 Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” 55 At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. 56 But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left him and fled.
Look at The Hands of Jesus
What hit me the most from today’s sermon was the pastor’s remarks about Jesus’ hands. In the painting you can see that Jesus is not resisting the arrest. He is not trying to defend himself against the angry mob. His hands are clasped together as if in prayer; Jesus sees the bigger picture for his life and does not let the moment overwhelm him.
Jesus could have reacted in self-interest when his friend Judas betrayed him. Jesus reprimanded one of his followers, who drew a sword to cut off the ear of a servant. Jesus said that he could have called twelve legions of angels to his defense. He was claiming that 72,000 angels would have appeared at his command but he didn’t react that way.
Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?
With all his power he did not react to the mob like you and I might have reacted. Jesus knew that what looked like a temporary win for evil would be the true downfall of evil. He knew that evil would never win against the goodness of God.
His disciples ran from the scene, as depicted by the man in the olive green shirt on the left side of the painting. The disciples lost their focus and thought that evil had won. The following day Jesus died on the cross. Three days later, on Easter Sunday he rose from the dead.
I Missed That Message
Having read the above passage in Matthew, hundreds of times, I must admit that I missed the single-mindedness of Jesus at that moment. Caravaggio didn’t miss that fact! He beautifully portrayed the scene described in Mathew Chapter 26 in his painting.
Sometimes it can feel that evil has the upper hand in this world. If you watch the evening news it can be easy to forget that good will overcome evil. You may be under persecution right now from family, friends, or evildoers and may be losing hope. The good news is there is hope. Take a minute to look how Jesus reacted when he was attacked.
According to Caravaggio’s vision of that day, Jesus held his hands together. Jesus knew who was ultimately in charge of the immediate scene. The painting “The Taking of Christ” is a great reminder for us today:
When we are under attack it’s time to pray and let God take control on the scene.
If you are a follower of Jesus, you can take great comfort is his sacrifice. You can learn from his example when he was unfairly attacked, accused, and punished. It’s time for you to “look again” at the example of Jesus.
Join Me at Park Church
If you enjoyed this post then you will really enjoy the six-week sermon series that just started today. There are five more messages in the series and I hope you will be compelled to hear them. Park Church has two services every Sunday and there are three services schedule for Easter Sunday.
For more information visit: http://www.parkchurchnj.com or call 732.530.7737