joy and caravaggio

Ted Dahlman, part 4 of 4.  He reviews super hero movies.


About the most painful things you can experience is giving birth. I know this for a fact because it even hurts to watch. I won’t say exactly how hard this was on my wife, but it was about six months before she felt close to 100% again.

We were both pretty distraught and exhausted throughout the five days in the hospital. In fact, when my brother came to visit us, he said I was acting more like it was a death than a birth.
Sometimes pain is easier to see than joy.

Take for example the disciples on the road to Emmaus. They hadn’t understood who Jesus was until they met a “passer-by*.”

Luke 24: 17-35
 17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
   They stood still, their faces downcast.
 28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.
 30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

Why couldn’t they see Jesus? Was Jesus in another form? Why couldn’t they see the truth? Was this a case of a “passing by*”? A miraculous revelation of God’s presence? Or was it simply that believing is seeing? Were they too blinded by sorrow to see joy?

Jesus said to His disciples in John 16:21-24:

21 A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. 22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. 23 In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

Joy is not the state of living a life free from pain or sorrow. Joy is recognizing that some things are worth it.

So where’s the joy in our churches? For example, many of us “celebrate” Communion every week. Why do we commemorate His death and not His resurrection? Why not celebrate the birth of the church? When will our grief turn to joy?

Supper At Emmaus Caravaggio 1601 Oil on canvas 141 cm × 196.2 cm (56 in × 77.2 in) National Gallery, London

*Commentators Joel Marcus and David Garland tell us the verbs translated as “pass by” or “pass in front of” are used in Scripture to denote a theophany. God sometimes gave the gift of His presence to particular people for particular purposes. While this verb may not appear in the original language (I haven’t learned Greek), it seems to be the same phenomenon as described in my previous posts.


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