Readings: Hebrews 7: 11-28, 1 John 1: 14, Jeremiah 31: 31-34, Psalm 34: 1-8, Luke 18: 35-42
The world of art is such an incredible world. The ability of those who can study a piece of art and know whether any given piece is an imitation of the work or if it is the real thing is beyond me. Clearly I do not look at the art with the same diligence or interest or passion that the experts do. I do not follow any particular artist enough that I would know their work let alone follow them to the degree that I would know how they worked or what materials they used to create the paint they needed to paint with. I would barely know if they used water based paint or oil based paint or some other concoction that they put together out of the petals of the flowers that they found growing in their garden. I wouldn’t know if I am holding a million rand investment in my hands or a twenty rand knock off of the original that was mass produced in order to turn a profit and help those who couldn’t afford the original appreciate the work of the artist in their own space.
Although the imitation is not the real, it doesn’t mean that we are not able to experience some of the emotion and appreciation that the artist had for whatever they were painting. The imitation does help us see into the heart and mind of the painter; it still helps us see their joy or their sadness or their playfulness. The imitation does help us engage with our eyes even though we do miss out on the details, like the texture or the smell or according to the experts a whole lot of extra detail.
All of the law, all of the traditions and rituals, all of the celebrations in the Old Testament are used by the Hebrews to help them understand who God is; and who they should be by virtue of the fact that they are God’s people. Everything in the Old Testament is an imitation of Christ who is the real. Everything that we did not understand or could not make sense of makes sense in Christ. The sacrifices, the high priests, the Holy of Holies all come together in Jesus because in Christ we come to experience fully all that we have understood in part. As we fall deeper in love with God by spending time in His presence; as we grow in our appreciation of the original so we begin to recognize how the Master worked and what materials He used to create the work of His hands. Whether we are analyzing technique and tools or simply just sitting and enjoying the beauty and wonder of the work, we are drawn into the heart and the mind of the one who put it together. We are led to wonder what made God create all of this. We are led to ask why Christ redeemed all of this. And in our questions we find the answer comes in the peace that fills us as we dwell in His presence and marvel at His work. We look into the face of Christ and we know that we are loved and that there is nothing more to it. Everything else helps us define that love, but the experience of love is found in the real, the experience of love is found in the beauty of the God upon whose face we can gaze in Christ Jesus.