Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Lady Lever Art Gallery - Holman Hunt

In the Lady Lever Art Gallery there is displayed an outstanding painting called "The Scapegoat". The artist was William Holman Hunt. The scapegoat vividly pictures the scene on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) in the Jewish religious calendar when two goats represented the sins of a nation. One died and the other was released to the wilderness, to an uninhabited place, carrying symbolically on it's head the sins of a nation. This sad and lonely scene was an Old Testament picture of Jesus, the Lamb of God who would bear away the sins of the world by his death of crucifixion.  

I’d also like to draw your attention to a man called Harold St. John. Harold St. John lived from 1876 to 1957. He preferred to have his name pronounced “sin-jun”, feeling that the title of "saint" was too superior sounding. But if anyone wanted an example of saintliness, they could have pointed in Harold St. John's direction. This man had a great love of art but let me tell you a little more about him first.

He was a banker and was well known amongst Christians in certain circles but today he has been pretty much lost from sight.

Harold St. John was a man who travelled a lot in business and was called to preach the Gospel and to teach the Word of God, which he did on a worldwide basis. He had a tremendous ability to get alongside people and to talk to them about the Lord Jesus.

Let me relate to you a story from his life that is very interesting. One day he was in a private chapel at Keble College in Oxford. He was standing lost in contemplation looking at Holman Hunt’s masterpiece “The Light of the World”. A chattering group of tourists approached and the guide announced, in a strident voice, that the original of this sold for £5000. Without a moment of hesitation Mr. St. John step forward, “Ladies and Gentlemen” he said, “May I add that the true original of this picture was sold for 30 pieces of silver”. A hush fell on the crowd and they left the chapel in silence. Here was a man who was not only interested in great masterpieces of art but he was interested in the subject of this particular piece of art. “The Light of the World” was Holman Hunt’s masterpiece, in which Christ stands waiting for men and women to open the door of their heart to Him. 

Incidentally the things have not changed since then, the Lord Jesus still waits for men and women to receive Him. To do this you have to accept you are sinful, confess your guilt before God and receive Jesus Christ as your Saviour and Lord (see the Gospel of John 1:12).

The curator spoke very confidently about the fact that the picture was sold for £5000, not a lot in today’s currency but a lot then. Mr. St. John understood the greater value of the picture. It pictured the Son of God, Jesus Christ. It pictured one who gave Himself, sold for thirty pieces of silver, that He might become the one final sacrifice for sin. His objective was that men and women might be saved. I wonder how much you value Jesus Christ today? He is indeed a masterpiece, He makes wrong things right, He cleanses dirty hearts, He brings peace with God. He saves those who call upon His name. This is all true because of His death upon the cross. Trust Him and He’ll never let you down.

For more information visit www.seekthetruth.org.uk

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