Friday, October 12, 2012

A Month of Miracles Part 6 - Healing the Paralyzed Man

Title: They Lowered the Paralyzed Man
Artist: Sadao Watanabe
Medium: Color Stencil
Size: 68.6 x 58.4 cm
Date: 1973
Location: Various; self-published, edition of 70.

Mark 2: 1-12 - A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves: “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

The man had come for physical healing, but Jesus speaks about the more profound illness of sin, of which physical illness generally was thought to be a consequence; and about the radical healing of forgiveness, of which this particular physical healing was a sign. Jesus claims for Himself the power to forgive sins, which in all the Bible can be attributed only to God (Ex. 34:7; Is. 1:18). The teachers of the law immediately accuse Jesus of “blaspheming”, a proper conclusion if He were a mere man.

Sadao Watanabe (1913 – 1996) was a Japanese printmaker famous for his biblical prints rendered in the mingei (folk art) tradition of Japan. He was born in Tokyo, and the young Watababe worked in dyers’ shops, sketching patterns and dyeing clothes. In 1937, he saw an exhibition of Serizawa Keisuke’s (1895–1984) work, and the event sowed the seeds of Watanabe’s artistic endeavor. Few years later, Watanabe attended a study group in which Serizawa taught his katazome technique of stencilling and dyeing, which originated in Okinawa. By 1958, Watanabe received first prize at the Modern Japanese Print Exhibition held in New York City for The Bronze Serpent showing Moses and the people of Israel.

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