Immediately following his time of temptation in the wilderness, Jesus began his ministry. Matthew sums up the whole of Jesus’ purpose in this one sentence proclamation: change direction in your life because the kingdom of God has come near. Live in a different way; you are closer to God than ever before. How does that thought speak to you in this present moment? Today’s painting is by Maurycy Gottlieb, a Polish-Jewish artist of the late 19th century whose work portrayed common threads in Jewish and Christian history and life. Jesus is here depicted in his role as Rabbi, teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum. Notice especially the attitudes of the congregation! If this painting looks unfinished, that is because it is: the artist died, at age 23, before its completion. This poignant element of the painting further emphasizes for us the imperative of Jesus’ message.
The Holy Gospel Matthew 4:12-17
Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the lake, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: ‘Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali, on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.’ From that time Jesus began to proclaim, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’
Christ Preaching at Capernum
Maurycy Gottlieb (c. 1878-1879)
Oil on Canvas