Advent Art, Day 1 – Behold the Lamb of God

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About the Art: Jacopo Tintoretto, The Baptism of Christ, 1580’s, oil on canvas, 200 x 286.5 x 14 cm, Cleveland Museum of Art. Click here to see the full work.

When Tintorretto painted The Baptism of Christ, oil-based paint was a relatively new medium. Though some form of oil painting had been practiced since ancient times, it wasn’t until the 15th century that Jan van Eyck developed the paints most people think of when they think of oil paint by combining pigment and linseed oil. With oil-based paints came the ability to create with a richness of color previously unknown.

Tinterretto used a rich palette to create depth and luminosity, which became an inspiration and stepping stone for artists who would follow in the development and use of color-theory.

In this painting, Tinterretto uses a rich blue as a backdrop of river and sky as the Holy Spirit descends on Christ in the form of a dove as the angels marvel and rejoice. This moment marked the beginning of something new which, similar to the creation of oil-based paints, would lead to a new way of seeing and a wonder about the possibilities of things to come.

(The excerpt under the heading “Consider” is from my book, The Advent of the Lamb of God.)

Consider:

“Israel was a nation with a story, a well-rehearsed narrative her priests were sworn to preserve and pass down. John himself was a part of that tale, and so were they. And yet, like so many of their countrymen, they had begun to forget the story of God’s promises to them.

“But it was such a beautiful story. It was the story of how their holy God had cut a covenant promise in blood to redeem and restore the children who had rebelled against him. It was the story of how Jacob’s line came to be a nation—sometimes mighty, sometimes fragile, but always prone to wander and forget their God.

“It was the story of generations of war, infighting, and exile that should have wiped them off the face of the earth. The fact that they survived all this and so much more testified to God’s fidelity to his promise never to leave them or forsake them. That alone proved God was not through with the story he was writing. And if that was true, it meant he wasn’t through with them either.”[1]

Questions:

Have you ever experienced a time in your life when you wondered if God might be through with you? What circumstances led you to think that? Do you think that still?

What would you say is your own understanding of the scope of the Christmas story? Is this season merely a time to remember the birth of Jesus, or does the story of the birth of Jesus call you to remember more?

What do you hope to be true of your anticipation of celebrating and remembering the birth of Christ in the weeks leading up to Christmas?

______________________

[1] Ramsey, Russ. The Advent of the Lamb of God. IVP, 2018. pg. 15.

Russ Ramsey
Russ is a pastor and author living in Nashville, Tennessee. His books include Struck: One Christian's Reflections on Encountering Death (IVP, 2017), and the Retelling the Story Series, featuring The Advent of the Lamb of God (IVP, 2018). His personal mission is to communicate the truths of Scripture in accessible ways to people in process. Follow Russ on Facebook / Twitter / Instagram.

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