Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Month of Miracles Part 17 - Healing the Blind Man of Bethsaida

Title: Christ Heals the Blind Man
Artist: Bartholomeus Breenbergh
Medium: Oil on Canvas
Size: tbd.
Date: 1635
Location: Liechtenstein State Art Collection, Vaduz.

Mark 8:22-26 - They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?” He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.” Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. Jesus sent him home, saying, “Don’t even go into the village.”

Normally the cures that Jesus worked were instantaneous, but it was not so in this case. Why? In this case it would seem the man’s faith was weak, and before curing his body, Jesus wanted his faith to grow. In this way Jesus acting in keeping with his usual pattern: not working miracles unless there was a right predisposition, yet encouraging a good disposition in the person and giving more grace as he responds to the grace already given.

Bartholomeus Breenbergh (November 1598 – October 1657) was a Dutch Golden Age painter of Italianate landscapes. Breenbergh spent most of the 1620s in Italy and thereafter worked in Amsterdam. He was a leading pioneer of the taste for Italianate landscapes in the Netherlands, his biblical and mythological characters set in well-balanced views of the Roman Campagna, often complete with classical ruins. But his work tends to be much fresher and bolder than his contemporaries. Late in his career Breenbergh turned to figure painting.

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