The Light of the World by Holman Hunt, 1853-54, Oil on Canvas, 125 X 60 cm, Keble College Oxford, Image from Web Gallery of Art.
While this is a new discovery for me, Holman Hunt’s great painting “The Light of the World” has been a Christian favorite and a great source of evangelism for years. I am charmed to learn the little details of it’s creation such as Mr. Hunt using his mother’s table cloth on the model for this painting. Knowing this helps me to imagine his creative process and feel his passion for the work. It is really when you linger on all the little details of a painting and then take the trouble to learn the background of a work of art that it’s power is unleashed. It seems that Holman Hunt was one of the founders of a movement called the Pre-Raphaelite school. This style was formed to express art that is more true and realistic to the original time and subject matter. This work was so loved by the artist that he painted a much larger version of the same subject with the stipulation that it should be sent around the world to preach the gospel. While it has traveled as far away as Australia and New Zealand, the larger work now hangs in St Paul’s Cathedral in London.
Look now at all the little details:
- The unique nature of the lantern
- The detailed representation of the crown of thorns
- The door overgrown with weeds representing the heart of man
- The absence of a latch, indicating that it can only be opened from within
- Jesus’ gentle expression
“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me.” Rev 3:20
So as you gaze upon this picture of Christ, spend some time in self-reflection. Is there anything Jesus might be gently nudging you to do? Is there anyone he keeps putting on your heart that you need to encourage in some way? Maybe there something you have been meaning to do that you keep putting off….a note you need to write or a call you would like to make? Let your heart melt anew to work in his kingdom.
Our Precious Savior, Lord who lives and reigns in our hearts, please guide us to look deeper and challenge ourselves to question things more. Help us to see those around us who can not ask for our help…and when we see them, help us to get over our reserved nature; our fear of rejection or perhaps the giving up of our time. Let us resolve to let your light shine in our hearts and into the world around us today. We pray this in the name of Jesus in whom we trust. Amen