Monday, March 17, 2008

Art Appreciation Monday for Holy Week

This is by one of my favorite artists, Russian Jew Marc Chagall. "The Binding of Isaac" depicts the story of Abraham's test in Genesis 22.

To my knowledge, Chagall was not a Christian. However, even he saw the foreshadowing in this event that pointed to another Father who would offer his Son as a sacrifice.

See Jesus carrying the cross in the blue background? Note how the vivid red seems to stream down like blood back into history upon Abraham & Isaac. Of course, the very moment Chagall paints is the one in which the angel of the Lord stops Abraham's hand and provides the ram caught in the thicket (left hand side) as the substitute sacrifice, but there will be no ram for God's Son! If anything, he is the ram, the substitutionary offering in the place of sinful humanity.

Additionally, looking ahead to Resurrection Sunday, I'm reminded of what the author of Hebrews tells us about the binding of Isaac:
By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, "It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned."
Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death. - Hebrews 11:17-19

Isaac prefigures Christ by symbolically returning from the dead (going to the place of sacrifice, being bound and laid on the altar, and then coming away alive.) Jesus, on the other hand, really did die, and was buried, yet within three days, he rose from the dead.

1 comment:

The Ironic Catholic said...

Fantastic--both the post and the art. I like Chagall too. He said in response to negative reaction by fellow Jews to his "White Crucifixion" painting (where a man hangs on a cross, identified as a Jew, amid Nazis crucifying him), there was no other idea or image that conveyed abandonment and suffering so perfectly. He had no real choice. Interesting....