Peter Paul Rubens’ classic painting “The Last Supper” is beautifully striking in its contrast and symbolism. In that contrast, you can see grace if you look for it. The figure of Christ is centered, prominent, large, with a heavenly light outlining His head. There can be no doubt that Rubens’ intention is to boldly proclaim the deity and majesty of Christ. Here is God. Here is God surrounded by men. Here is God fulfilling His mission. Here is God knowing what is to come. Here is God sitting with those He loved, those He came to redeem, restore, renew, forgive. Rubens is telling us to remember.
Remember that the hands that would lift the cup would be lifted up themselves and nailed to our sin. Remember that grace would flow by His blood just as wine flowed for their refreshment. Remember. Remember that violence would tear Him just as they tore the bread to feast upon it. Remember, Rubens is telling us, “Do not ever forget.”
It is all here in this beautiful portrayal: majesty and humanity, deity and deception, holiness and sin, redemption and decay, grace and judgement, mercy and betrayal, forgiveness and bitterness, love and envy, sacrifice and selfishness. It is all here in the image of God and man. Remember.
Can you see His grace here? It is written on His face as He looks to His Father, and it is written upon the face of the one who looks at you. Grace and sin are both sitting at that table. However, although sin sat at the table with Him and even looks toward you, it will never be strong enough to overshadow God’s grace that sat there, as well. Remember!
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