Sunday, May 24, 2020

Trinity: Welcome Home

Jesus ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God. If you are from a Christian tradition that embraces the Apostles' Creed, you have probably said those words. We know them to be true. the disciples watched Jesus move farther and farther away from them as he ascended. And where Jesus went was to heaven. Have you ever wondered what that looked like?

When artists consider the Trinity, it's often like this painting by Masaccio. Jesus is on the cross, his arms outstretched. The first person of the Trinity stands behind Jesus' head. A dove representing the Holy Spirit hovers between the two. This is the Trinity at the moment of Jesus' death. But what about after the Ascension? What happened when Jesus returned to heaven?
Pieter de Grebber. God Inviting Christ to Sit on the Throne at His Right Hand. 1645. Museum Catharijneconvent, Utrecht.
Pieter de Grebber, a 17th-century Dutch painter, imagined that scene of "What happened next?" In this scene, Jesus kneels before the first person of the Trinity, who is seated on a throne. The symbol for the Holy Spirit, a dove here as in Masaccio's painting, hovers nearby. The enthroned God stretches out a hand inviting Jesus to take his place to the right of the throne.

Is this how you picture this part of the story? Have you imagined this scene at all? In the version here, Jesus appears to be still wearing the fabric wrapped around his hips that we see in many versions of the Crucifixion/Resurrection. Jesus is kneeling, with hands raised so we see the wounds in his hands. There is red fabric - some kind of cloak, perhaps - behind Jesus.

It occurs to me that this doesn't really look like a long-lost son coming home. It absolutely doesn't look like a triumphant king returning home after a win. It looks like someone who didn't count equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death -- even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:6-8).

Previous posts for Trinity Sunday can be accessed through the scripture index tabs under the blog title.

One of the earliest (maybe THE earliest?) depiction of the Trinity. This week on Art&Faith Matters on Facebook.

No comments:

Post a Comment