Recently, I visited the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, CA. I had not been there in quite a while and had forgotten just how lovely it is. I always enjoyed the buildings that have paintings from the 1600s-1700s. And that day was no exception. There is something about the color and light of a Rembrandt. Yum.
The painting above is not Rembrandt, but is the French artist, Valentin de Boulogne. His depiction of the woman caught in adultery (from the gospels) was, to me, the most penetrating image in that gallery.
Since I had the free educational audio, I listened to an artist’s take on this painting as I stood before it. Of course, the artist talked about light, dark and color. But what really stood out to me was his commentary on texture. He pointed out the contrast between the hard iron of the guard’s armor juxtaposed against the vulnerability of skin shown by the woman and by Jesus Himself.
When the narrator spoke of their vulnerability, it was as if the painting narrowed to an image of two. Jesus’ connection to the woman in her embarrassment and humiliation stood out like a relief.
She was not alone.
If you know the story, Jesus took the time to put the others in their place by writing on the ground until they all left, dropping their stones on the way out. But what is most striking is Jesus’ vulnerability depicted in solidarity with the woman. The lighting, the skin tones, all point to Jesus’ being with.
Yes, Jesus is the Strong and Mighty, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. And he takes the time to be with the lowly, the humiliated, the vulnerable.
Are there any ways in which you feel vulnerable these days? Are you carrying the weight of shame?
This woman’s story was one of adultery. But there are many other reasons why any of us would feel ashamed, humiliated or vulnerable. After taking in this image, are there new ways in which you might sense Jesus being with you in your situation?
Take a few more moments to soak in this image. Let it inform how you see yourself today, through his eyes of love.
Art Details: Valentin de Boulogne (French, 1591 – 1632), Christ and the Adulteress, about 1620s, Oil on canvas