Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Matthew 12

While They Watched (2009) (9" x 12")
collage on paper

Sometimes the reaction of the religious leaders to Jesus' actions seems almost incomprehensible. In this story, Jesus heals a man of a withered hand on the sabbath and is criticized by the Pharisees. The probable reason for their anger had more to do with the fact that (a) Jesus got the best of them using rabbinical logic and (b) the populace was following him rather than them.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Mark 11

Downcast (2009) (9" x 12")
collage on paper

The last half of Mark 11 consists of a sandwich construction in which the story of the cursiing of the fig tree is interrupted in the middle with the account of Jesus driving out the moneychangers. Interestingly, both of these stories have been quoted by critics of Christianity to prove that Jesus was not in fact sinless. Both stories are indeed related in theme and demonstrate Jesus' righteous indignation. Unfortunately for us, we are not righteous like Jesus and need to be very hesitant before attempting to emulate Jesus' actions.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Matthew 15

Crumbs (2009) (9" x 12")
collage on paper

I have been studying the Book of Acts recently, which reminded me that gentiles like myself are only allowed into the kingdom because we are receiving the "crumbs" discarded by the people in Jesus' day. We may be "dogs" as Jesus says in Matthew 15:21-28, but grace has been extended to us as well.

Friday, August 22, 2014

John 5

Troubling the Water (2009) (9" x 12")
collage on paper

This miracle story is interesting in giving an insight into human nature. Apparently there was a tradition built up around the Pool of Bethsaida to the effect that an angel would disturb the water and heal whomever was the first into the pool. Thus, it was the ancient equivalent of Lourdes. It is probably safe to say that the pool's success rate was roughly equivalent to that of Lourdes also (about 60 confirmed cases out of many millions).
By contrast, Jesus heals the man by the pool without being sought out by him. Salvation is not accomplished by what we do, but by what God has already done for us through Christ.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Luke 14

From the Lesser to the Greater (2009) (9" x 12")
collage on paper

Luke 14:1-6 is a passage describing not an actual miracle, but a hypothetical one. Jesus asks the Pharisees whether it is permissible to heal on the Sabbath, knowing that they have criticized him for this very thing. They refuse to answer because they are well aware of the provisions in Leviticus allowing certain acts of mercy to be performed on the Sabbath.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Matthew 17

Clarias Macracanthus (2009) (9" x 12")
collage on paper

Matthew 17:24-27 records the miracle of Peter finding a coin in a fish's mouth. However, the main thrust of the story is Jesus' teaching regarding the need to pay the annual temple tax in order not to give offense to the Jews in Jerusalem. This is one of two teachings in Matthew on the subject of taxation, the other being in Matthew 22 regarding the question of paying taxes to Caesar.

These two issues were combined somewhat after a Jewish revolt in 66 AD when Rome demanded that Jews pay a tax to support the temple of Jupiter in Rome.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Luke 7

Raised in Nain (2009) (9" x 12")
collage on paper

The raising of the widow's son in Luke 7:11-15 is apparently so similar to the miracles of Elijah and Elisha that it prompts the people to say, "A great prophet has risen among us!"  This incident may also explain why many felt that Jesus was actually the reappearance of Elijah predicted in Malachi.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

John 6: The Feeding of the 5,000

Every Little Bit Helps (2009) (9" x 12")
collage on paper

The feeding of the multitude is the only miracle of Christ that is recorded in all four gospels. The human hero of the story is perhaps Andrew, who identifies at least one person in the crowd who has brought food with him. Although Andrew knows that it is not enough to feed everyone, he nonetheless brings it to Jesus' attention believing in faith that Jesus might be able to use it.  

We shouldn't be afraid to bring our insignificant gifts to God since he can multiply them to further His kingdom.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Mark 4

Peace, Be Still (2009) (9" x 12")
collage on paper

Some people balk at accepting the nature miracles of Christ such as the stilling of the storm, found in Mark 4.  They accept the fact that God is able to do anything, but feel that it would be somehow cheating for him to disobey the very laws of nature that he set in place to begin with. As a PhD scientist, I can sympathize with these feelings; however, they are only feelings, not well thought-out logical deductions.
This is too large a subject to cover in a few sentences. For those interested in pursuing it, I would recommend reading C. S. Lewis' Miracles, C. John Collins' The God of Miracles, or Bernard Ramm's The Christian View of Science and Scripture.

Friday, August 8, 2014

John 2: The Miracle at Cana

Saving the Best for Last (2009) (9" x 12")
collage on paper

This first miracle of Jesus, at the wedding in Cana, again reminds us that one of the main purposes for Jesus' coming was to bring joy and good news into the world, not a sense of doom and more onerous commands to follow.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Matthew 14

Stepping Out (2009) (9" x 12")
collage on paper

The story of Jesus walking on the water not only demonstrates his complete mastery over nature, but also the strengths and weaknesses of Peter's character. He is the fearless leader, charging out ahead while the other apostles are more hesitant. On the other hand, when he fails to keep his eye on Jesus and tries to go his own way, he fails miserably (as we all do).

Sunday, August 3, 2014

John 11

Never Too Late (2009) (9" x 12")
collage on paper

Jesus is chided for being too late to save Lazarus, but actually it is his delay in arriving that is the cause of this most spectacular miracle of all. Appropriately, this event closes the first half of the Gospel of John and prepares for the Passion story that will culminate in a true resurrection.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Mark 5: Healing of the Demoniac

Decapolis News (2009) (9" x 12")
collage on paper

This story of Jesus casting out the demons from a possessed man is loaded with images of uncleanliness, at least from a Jewish viewpoint: graves, nudity, and pigs. This emphasizes the demonic nature of the man's condition, in contrast to those who would simply label the man's problem as one of epilepsy.  As in other encounters with demons, there is no question that they recognize Jesus immediately for who he is and bow to his lordship, unlike many of the people Jesus interacts with.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Luke 5

Healing of the Paralytic (2009) (9" x 12")
collage on paper

Many of Jesus' miracles seem to necessitate the faith of the one being healed. In this case, the only faith in Jesus implied in the story is that of the paralytic's friends who bring him to Jesus.  Jesus' ultimate motive in healing was to demonstrate his love, not to test others' faith.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Luke 5

Gennesaret (2009) (9" x 12")
collage on paper

This is the miraculous catch of fish recorded in Luke 5:1-11. It is also the story containing the famous phrase "fishers of men."  Peter's actions are interesting to observe. First he agrees to Jesus' suggestion on where to cast the net even though this is an area in which Peter is the recognized expert, not the son of a carpenter.  And then, when Jesus' advice proves fruitful, Peter's reaction is to declare his unworthiness to be in Jesus' presence.

Most of us in the same situation would probably have sneered at Jesus' advice to start with. And if we did follow it, it would be only to prove Jesus wrong. Then after his words proved true, we would probably have said, "I was just going to fish on that side of the boat anyway."

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Prodigal Son: Part 3

Earner (2010) (17" x 17")
collage on hardboard

The elder brother is perhaps the most interesting character in the parable; at least he is the one we can identify with the most.  His major problem is not jealousy of his brother, although that certainly comes out clearly in the story. His problem lies in thinking that he can only gain love and respect from his father by his hard work.  The concept of grace is foreign to him.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Prodigal Son: Part 2

Giver (2010) (24" x 13")
collage on hard board

The return of the prodigal son and his acceptance by his father is one of the clearest examples in the Bible of the principle of pure grace extended by God to all those who repent and turn to Him as their only hope of salvation.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Prodigal Son

Taker (2010) (17" x 17")
collage on hardboard

Our home Bible study group is going through the Sermon on the Mount. To comment on Matt. 27:9 ("Which of you, if your child asks for bread, will give him a stone?"), I read a quote from George MacDonald collected in an anthology by C. S. Lewis: "The Father will never give the child a stone that asks for bread, bt I am not sure that He will not give the child a stone that asks for a stone."

One of the people in our group noted that this was exactly what the father in the parable did; he gave the younger son what he asked for, knowing that it was not best for him but realizing that the son needed to learn his lesson first hand, the hard way.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Luke 24

Road to Emmaus (2010) (16" x 20")
collage on canvas

Just as the beginning of Luke's Gospel describes the various witnesses to the miraculous events surrounding Jesus' birth, the conclusion describes the witnesses to his resurrection--including the two travelers on their way to Emmaus.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Acts 9

Road to Damascus (2010) (16" x 20")
collage on canvas

The concept of "road" or "way" is especially important in the New Testament. One of the first names for Christianity was actually The Way.  One fateful road was that taken by Saul on the way to persecute Christians in Damascus. This four-panel "cartoon" describes what happened to him, as related in Acts 9, 22 and 26.