Art and scripture can work hand in hand to share and reinforce religious beliefs, and this year the MOA is selecting new artworks each week to accompany each chapter of the Come, Follow Me program. Below you'll selections for this month alongside commentary and questions written by members of the MOA team. We hope that art-lovers everywhere will be inspired by these artworks as they complement their gospel study, family discussions, and church classes with fine art from around the world.
When Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick, he intentionally stayed where he was for two days; after Lazarus died, Christ told his disciples, “And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe…” (John 11:15). The disciples already knew of Christ’s power over sicknesses, but they were to witness an even greater miracle. In Rembrandt’s depiction of this account, onlookers gather in awe as Christ raises Lazarus from the dead. Additionally, Rembrandt provides an indication of what was yet to come: the hanging objects above Jesus’s head signify victory in battle, and connect Lazarus’s triumph over death with Christ’s upcoming victory over death. Certainly, Christ is the resurrection and the life, as He declared to Martha.
When have you felt passed over for a blessing you desired, only to be given a greater miracle?
When some children were brought to Christ, His disciples chastised those who brought them; quickly, however, Christ rebuked these same disciples. He said, “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 19:14); then “took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them” (Mark 10:16). Benjamin West reminds us of just a few of the ways we should become like a little child. In this painting, the child listens attentively, He leans into the Savior, humbly prepared to follow the Master’s teachings.
What other admirable qualities in children can we emulate?
Many of Christ’s miracles, parables, and teachings are found in only one or two of the Gospels, even leading up to the atonement, crucifixion, and resurrection. However, Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem (a fulfillment of ancient prophecy) is mentioned in all four. This event is an example of Christ as Lord and King: He was carried by an animal into the city, and held palm branches, a symbol of triumph. Jean-Léon Gérôme further conveys Christ’s authority in His strong, upright posture. Simultaneously, this event is an example of the Lord’s humility and meekness: He rode in on the lowliest of animals—a donkey. In Gérôme’s depiction, Jesus’s clothes do not draw attention, nor does He wear sandals or shoes. Often this momentous event is depicted with the crowds that welcomed the Savior into Jerusalem, but Gérôme presents a quieter version focusing solely on the King.
How does Christ’s expression in Gérôme’s sculpture contribute to what you know about this event?
The parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins is one of many that teach us to be prepared for the Lord’s coming. We often see the ten gathered together waiting for the bridegroom, or the moment that the foolish virgins are turned away because they were unprepared. Here, however, we see only one representative from each group, identified by the inscriptions below their feet. Artist Julius Rotermund’s inscription on the left translates, “Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the bridegroom cometh.” His inscription on the right translates, “Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.” This message is emphasized by their body language.
In what ways might you be spiritually sleeping? On the other hand, what are you doing to be watchful?