The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables. Luke 8:10
One of the most enduring legacies of the Gospels is the manner in which Jesus explained the mysteries of his Father’s Kingdom. In divine accommodation, God used the incarnation of Jesus Christ to communicate his being and essence. Story and analogy frequently marked Jesus' earthly ministry, expressing the nearness and vastness of God's love.
Outside of the iconography of Jesus’ life and ministry, scenes from the parables are among the most potent images in art. Prominent examples include the fifth-century Roman mosaic of Christ the Good Shepherd, Rembrandt's Good Samaritan painting, and Otto Dix’s lithographs of the Ten Virgins. The religious leaders and even his disciples were confused by Christ’s parables, and their insightful mystery has made them a fountain of inspiration for artists for two millennia. Even today, they remain compelling sources for visual expression and contemplation.
Even though we are now living in a society that some have deemed post-Christian and biblically illiterate, many of these New Testament parables linger in our collective consciousness. Contemporary artists are still finding ways to unpack and restate them from new and unique perspectives, using time-honored and non-traditional media, ranging from narrative depiction to abstract representation.
BGC Museum Exhibit: Picturing the Parables
The twenty-four pieces that make up this exhibit tell some of the world’s favorite tales. On loan from Christians in the Visual Arts (CIVA), these seek to update the imagery of the parables of Jesus for our own time, so that the timelessness of these stories may bear fresh fruit in a new generation. Each artist has grasped certain details that expand the narratives into new directions. The metaphors and symbols used by Christ are just as pertinent today as to the first hearers of the parables.
Let these pieces awaken your eyes, ears and heart to the treasured stories that Jesus told, to the Kingdom of God close at hand, and to his voice speaking to you now. He who has ears, let him hear. She who has eyes, let her see.