It has been awhile since I spent some time with one of Rembrandt’s works. Searching for an image to use this week, I landed on this black and white etching print. I am normally so drawn to color but if you stop and really take a moment you will see that this image glows with heavenly light. I begin to wonder where this might be taking place, as I often think of Jesus on a hillside. Maybe this was inside the synagogue? I begin to appreciate all the details and I am grateful for a new perspective to a familiar scene. Which passage do you think this might be an illustration?
I decided to stop for a moment and read over this familiar passage in Matthew:
At that time Jesus said, ‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do. All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’Matthew 11: 25-30 NIV.
Spend a little time with the details of this image. Notice the great variety of people…some old and some very young…some wealthy and some very poor…others are sick in some way. Imagine yourself among this crowd of people. Where would you belong? There are those who are listening intently and others who are very distracted or even asleep.
I am charmed to see, and this is my humble opinion, that Rembrandt has put himself into the picture. Can you find him among the crowd? He is famous for doing this and I am just beginning to understand that this is his message to us. He is encouraging us to step into the scene and he is telling us that this is how he experiences the story before, during and after he is creating it.
I also love the detail of the camel that is in the shadows and is carrying a sleeping person on his back. Notice how the details on the right side of the image are almost photographic and the details on the right side are more loosely drawn almost cartoon like. Can you see the gentleman with the artists hat standing with his back to us? I wonder…
or maybe that is Rembrandt leaning into listen from the back row on the left side. It does look like his self portraits.
Breathe-in the scene and really listen to Jesus’ words. Try to imagine hearing them for the first time. Think of how shocking he must have sounded to these people. And yet they kept coming to see and listen and to be healed.
Imagine yourself being refreshed by these words.
Let go of what ever you are carrying.
You are not alone.
Just savor the moment and trust.
This is a very special musical moment put together by my dear friends.
Carla Ball (flute) Ben Ball (piano & tenor) Katie Ball (soprano)
“He Will Hold Me Fast” By Ada Ruth Habershon and Matthew Merker © 2013 Getty Music Publishing, Matthew Merker Music
Mixed by Matt Phillips @ Level Headed Recordings of Cape Coral, Florida.
New Hope Presbyterian Church of Fort Myers, Florida
Sung in worship on Sunday, July 17, 2022