After we made our way through several galleries though, I began to notice a missing theme: the resurrection.
Much of the religious artwork was of Jesus, but it focused almost exclusively on His nativity and on His death, with an occasional painting from His ministry. We probably saw close to a hundred pieces celebrating His birth and as many (or more) of his death.
Adoration of the Shepherds, by Guido Reni
But as I started to actively look for art celebrating Jesus’ resurrection and triumph over death, I found it eerily lacking.
Maybe we happened to walk through all the wrong rooms. Maybe somehow I missed a gallery full of triumphant paintings celebrating Jesus’ resurrection. Maybe.
I hope so.
But the missing artwork has come to mind multiple times. As Christians, it’s so easy to focus on one part of Jesus’ character, to the exclusion of others.
To focus on His love, but not His righteousness. “To worship the babe in the manger, but forget the Christ of the cross.” Or to think of Him only as the suffering Messiah, and not also as the conquering, risen King.
That God the Son was willing to come to earth as a baby, should forever make us pause in awe. That He was willing to take the sin of the world upon Himself, should make us eternally grateful. But that He rose again, defeated death, and now sits on the right hand of God the Father, “ever living to make intercession for us”, is the pinnacle of the story.
To paint all of Christ’s life but stopping before the resurrection, is telling the grandest story, but stopping before the very happiest of endings.