Tuesday, January 30, 2007

"He Will See His Offspring" (Isaiah 53:10)

A few more thoughts on biblical Servanthood and the Rembrandt Workshop painting, Descent from the Cross, which I blogged about yesterday.

One of the most intriguing features of the Servant of the Lord in the book of Isaiah is how he generates a progeny or "seed." The Suffering Servant is the progenitor or "first fruits" of a growing group of "servants" (plural) of the Lord. These "offspring" become the main protagonists in the final, third section of Isaiah, chapters 56-66 as W. A. M. Beuken has most powerfully demonstrated in recent years. Like their progenitor, they are all reverent, humble, full of God's power and not their own.

When you approach yesterday's artwork with this lens, you immediately notice that Christ is not the only suffering servant highlighted. Look closely at the image of Christ and the image of his mother:

The torchlight falls on Christ but also on his mother as well. An arm supports Mary's, wrapped around her tummy, just as with Christ. The expressions of accomplished suffering are very similar on both their faces. Both have a right arm that droops in a similar fashion. Surely they are both suffering servants, parallel in their servanthood.

For me, this parallelism between Christ and Mary invites the viewer to imagine that the honor and call of Servanthood does not belong to Christ exclusively. Those who love him and desire to follow him partake of the same role. As in Isaiah 53:10, "He will see his offspring."



Blogger PamBG said...

Thanks for this. Presumably the artist would have had a rather higher Mariology than most Protestants? But that doesn't take away from your point, I don't think.

Just clear something up for me. This is a mediation on the painting? Or an exegesis of Isaiah? Or are you using the painting as an illustration of your exegetical points? (Not being critical, just wanting to understand.)

Tue Jan 30, 03:52:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger S and C said...

Thanks, Pam. This is such a good question, that I am going to elevate it to a post. ---S.

Tue Jan 30, 05:33:00 PM GMT-5  

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