The painting may not be to everyone’s taste, but, it makes us think. This may not be your idea of what Jesus looked like, or even how the wilderness in which he spent those 40 days looked like, but it meant something to the artist, Stanley Spencer (1892-1959), which he tried to put onto the canvas.
Originally he wanted to paint 40 canvases, one for each day of lent, I think he only managed 8, and all of these are now housed at the Art Gallery of Western Australia. The Art Gallery of Western Australia
‘God hates nothing’ he has made, however much we may wish to say the same of ourselves, we cannot truthfully do so… Compare the look of compassion of Jesus in the painting with our reaction, we would possibly feel that a scorpion shouldn’t get that close, and if one did, well, “The only good scorpion is a deaf scorpion”
As I was marked with the sign of the cross, made from the ashes of last years palm crosses, along with all others present, including the officiating priest, I was asked to remember,”That I am dust, and that to dust I shall return). This is true. It is also true, that however I may aspire to it. ‘I don’t love God, as he should be loved, I don’t love my neighbour as myself. (Deuteronomy 6:4 and Matthew 22: 37-39). This is why the season of Lent is so important, we learn to see things as they are – we learn that the Love of God is so much broader than the limits of our mind, instead of treating us as scorpions, serpents, He loved us and sent his son to die for us while we were still his enemies … Yes human beings can have scorpion stings, yes, we can have snake venom, everything in this painting is rounded isn’t it? So should our love be, and between all living creatures, material things and God there should be compassion and love. In days when Rain Forests come crashing down, when land is over farmed, when animals are reared in cruelty for the sake of profit, when humanity has advanced to the point of being able to dispose of all of us at the touch of a button, and no one has time for God … the wilderness and Lent cry out to us … Come and learn from me before you return to dust, we may be astonished to find that streams of living water have been lovingly placed there, in advance of our coming to sustain, refresh, and renew us in Love.