25th October 2020

Rembrandt’s Question 

“Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciple saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Be of good cheer! It is I: do not be afraid.’”
Matthew 14:25-27 (NKJV) 

The Bible shares several stories about Jesus and water. In one, we find Jesus calming the storm. At the end the text reads: “When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshipped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God’” (Matthew 14:32-33 NRSV). In ancient understanding the sea represented chaos, death, and danger. Only God could control the sea.

When he was 29, Rembrandt painted the famous Christ in the Storm on the Lake of Galilee based on Mark’s account. It’s a large painting, four by five feet high. Rembrandt uses his mastery of light and dark to make an emotional impact—every face on the boat bears its own expression and tells its own story. Jesus wakes from sleeping with a look of total peace: God is in charge. There is another figure, almost out of place, and wearing clothes that seem out of the colour scheme slightly. He stares straight at the viewer.

A close count will show 12 disciples and one Lord, making for 13 figures in the painting. But look again and you will see 14! The figure in the foreground, staring compellingly at us as we gaze at the painting is none other than Rembrandt himself! Scholars speculate that Rembrandt was so passionately invested in this story that he pictured himself within it.

It poses the question: Where are we on the boat? Where are we on the night that Jesus walked on the water or when a storm came out of nowhere and tossed the boat so violently? It’s a question worth asking at any point in our lives, and in any of the stormy seas we may face. Are we turning outward to stare at the sea or turning back to the Lord himself?

The really good news is that no matter how violent the seas, nor how distressed you and I become, the Lord is with us. The calm, sure, saving Jesus is ever-present in this boat we call life. We actively participate by looking to him in calm and stormy seas.

Gracious Father, help us always to look to you, to trust you and to rest in you. In Jesus’ name we pray.

Study presented by Greg Williams


About the Presenter:
The Day by Day each Sunday is taken from ‘Speaking of Life,’ (https://www.gci.org/videos/media-speaking-of-life/), a public resource video on the USA website of Grace Communion International. Greg Williams is President of Grace Communion International and lives in North Carolina, USA.

Local Congregation:
You are welcome to attend one of our local Church congregations located throughout the UK and Ireland.  For details of your nearest local congregation, check on our website, www.gracecom.church under the ‘Churches’ tab, or ring +44 (0)1858 437099.

Email:  admin@daybyday.org.uk

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