2nd April 2012

Christ as Salvator Mundi (Saviour Of The World)

“And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world.”
1 John 4:14 (NIV)

The Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition recently shown at the National Gallery, London, was inundated with superlatives. One headline announced, “The Master has Arrived”, others claim it to be, “the most complete display of Leonardo’s rare surviving paintings ever held”, “an unprecedented exhibition”, “the first of its kind anywhere in the world”, “sensational international loans never before seen in the UK”.

One highlight of the exhibition was a painting called Christ as Salvator Mundi (Christ as Saviour of the World). The original was recorded in the art collection of King Charles I of England but was subsequently considered to have been lost.  The picture on show was for many centuries thought to be a copy, but after recently undergoing extensive conservation treatment (when the painting was cleaned and studied) it was determined to be the original Leonardo. The true identity of the painting had lain dormant for years, its distinguishing features hidden under layers of crude over-paint. During conservation the truth was revealed little-by-little as successive layers of varnish and over-paint were painstakingly removed to reveal the underlying brush strokes and technique of the master painter. The picture which once sold for £45 is now valued at £120 million!

Like Leonardo’s masterpiece, the gospel message contained in the major Christian Festivals is often obscured by the gloss of commercialism and superficiality. When this is removed, then the underlying masterstrokes of God’s grace are revealed and a picture emerges that is priceless:  Christ not only a personal saviour but, as Salvator Mundi, Saviour of the world.

John 3:17 says, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”  The Christmas period began the Festival cycle with the announcement, “The Master Has Arrived.”  The Passover/Easter season coming up, reveals him as Saviour of the world through his sacrifice for mankind.

Holy Father, we thank you for the salvation available to all people in Jesus Christ, through his incarnation, birth, life, death and resurrection.

Study by Eddie Marsh

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