Saturday, April 3, 2010

Chagall's Abraham

Marc Chagall's Sacrifice of Isaac is a very affecting painting to me. The composition, the movement, the expression, the colors (including what each color might represent) and the symbolism are all artistically pleasing. Together they are all quite moving.

Abraham, following the direct order of God (Genesis 22:2), is about to kill (and burn!) his own son on an altar of sacrifice, though he was fully expecting his son to be raised somehow from the dead (Genesis 22:5, Hebrews 11:17-19). We see over to the left the ram, miraculously - providentially - provided by God,  to take the place of the one that was about to die. The pure, spotless ram was provided to turn God's wrath away from the guilty. Freedom at another's expense!

But now wait - who is that in the brown, shadowy area in the back? It's the Son of God, carrying his own cross - walking the horror-road up the hill of death. He's there to be sacrificed for the sins of the world. There are people around him, but make no mistake, he is alone. There is no one to take his ram will be provided. In actuality, Jesus himself will be the spotless, innocent lamb to be slain in the place of the guilty. And by laying down his life as a substitutionary atonement, he will gloriously fulfill Abraham and Isaac's early foreshadow.

It is a sober thing, and appropriate to think about on Holy Saturday, the day we remember that Jesus' body lay in the tomb, dead. I feel so humbled and overwhelmed at the thought of Jesus' deep, deep, cross-pursuing love! Freedom at Another's Expense!

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