Saturday, October 27, 2012

A Month of Miracles Part 21 - Healing the Man With Dropsy

Title: Healing of the Man With the Dropsy
Artist: Alexandre Bida
Medium: Etching
Size: 28 x 21 cm
Date: ca. 1873
Location: From Illustrations by Alexandre Bida, from Christ in Art; or, The Gospel Life of Jesus: With the Bida Illustrations. by Edward Eggleston. New York: Fords, Howard, & Hulbert, 1874.

Luke 14:1-6 - One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched. There in front of him was a man suffering from abnormal swelling of his body. Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, he healed him and sent him on his way. Then he asked them, “If one of you has a child or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull it out?” And they had nothing to say.

As Jesus dines with the Pharisees, the religious leaders are watching him. The phrase Luke used here for ‘carefully watched’ means to watch surreptitiously – ominously - much as an undercover agent would today. It is apparent that the mood is somber, suspicion deep. At the meal is a man with dropsy, which means his limbs are swollen with excess body fluids, and Jesus asks whether it is lawful to heal on the Sabbath. Having had experience with this predicament, the leaders remain silent - and Jesus heals the man. After sending him away, Jesus notes again that they would quickly offer aid to a son or even an ox that had fallen in the ditch on the sabbath. The leaders' silence continues. Nothing has been learned; nothing has been confessed. Despite a constant barrage of divine activity, their position has not changed. The passage confirms how strong sin's stubbornness can be. It also shows how even after warnings about judgment and its consequences, God graciously still gives evidence of his presence.

Alexandre Bida (1813–1895) was born in Toulouse, France, and was a painter of the Romantic period. He specialized in Orientalism and studied under Eugene Delacroix, but soon developed his own style along with his desire for perfection. As a youth he traveled to work in Egypt, Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, and Palestine, and likely used this knowledge as illustrator of ‘Bida's Les Saints Evangeles’, published in 1873. Of Bida's work, although having closely observed the costumes and people encountered overseas, his decorative arrangements and symmetry of space exemplified the theatrical aspects of his art.

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