Summary: Theme: Self-surrender/sacrifice/servanthood Proposition: Through a series of trials and errors Jesus is able to teach His disciples the true walk of a disciple - that of self-surrender/sacrifice/servanthood
Title: "WARTS AND ALL"
Proposition: Through a series of trials and errors Jesus is able to teach His disciples the true walk of a disciple - that of self-surrender/sacrifice/servanthood
Have you ever heard of a painter named Sir Peter Lely? Until this week, I don't know if I had ever read about him or knew anything about him. Sir Lely was born nearly 400 years ago in 1618. Who exactly was he and why is he important? Sir Peter Lely was a famous Dutch painter whose particular skill predates what we call today photo shopping. air brushing or photo manipulation.
I think we all have seen some pictures that have been air brushed or photo shopped. All you have to do is to look at some glamour shots of the Hollywood stars and you can tell that someone has enhanced their pictures to look their best. Some the artists have air brushed away a few wrinkles or added some color to their hair. They have done whatever they could to make the person look as perfect as possible.
Way before there was photography, there were artists like Sir Peter Lely who would do the same when he painted someone's portrait. He would paint what the person wanted people to see and not always what they actually looked like at the time. He became famous for doing such work for the royalty of England, for the likes of King Charles II and Queen Mary II. Lords and ladies wanted him to paint them because they knew that possessed the skill to fix whatever was necessary so that their portraits would be beautiful hanging in their front rooms. He had a flair for taking care of blemishes and imperfections.
However, not everyone was fond of this aspect of Sir Lely's work. Some wanted him because of his great artistic ability to paint but they choose not to allow him to change their looks. One of those was a man by the name of Oliver Cromwell. Cromwell had risen to power during a very turbulent time in English history. He was a revolutionary, who wanted England to be governed by a Parliament instead of being dictated by a king. Rising to ultimate power though military means, Oliver Cromwell became what he called the First Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Ireland and Scotland. He had replaced the royalty and was doing his best to rule by way of a modified democracy. His rule however, was short lived as he discovered that it was much easier to be a revolutionary than it was to be a ruler. It wasn't long until Cromwell was doing the same things that he had revolted against.
Anyway, Lord Cromwell commissioned Sir Peter Lely to paint his portrait. Sir Peter readily agreed and was proceeding to paint a rather handsome painting of Oliver Cromwell. However, it seems that Oliver suffered from a number of warts and other facial maladies and so Sir Peter was going to use his skill and touch up what was necessary. Cromwell would have none of it. It is recorded that Cromwell told Sir Lely the following:
“Mr. Lely, I desire you would use all your skill to paint your picture truly like me, and not flatter me at all; but remark all these roughness, pimples, warts, and everything as you see me. Otherwise, I will never pay a farthing for it.”
It is from that encounter that we get the phrase - "warts and all". Meaning that we have to see and view something or someone as they truly are, not concealing the less attractive parts. Not photo shopped or air brushed. Just reality.
It is in this same spirit that we see St. Mark writing his Gospel. Mark gives us the Story of Jesus, warts and all. He wants us to see the disciples and their comings and goings just as they truly were - "warts and all." Mark isn't interested in portraying the disciples as some kind of superhuman saints. Instead, he wants us to understand that they were ordinary flesh and blood humans who had been called by Jesus Christ. They were just like you and me.
He wants us to understand that it was with simply ordinary people, "warts and all", that Jesus set out to transform His world. It was with commonplace human beings that Jesus baptized with His Holy Spirit to preach, teach and witness about the Kingdom of Heaven. Mark wants us to understand that the world does not need super saints. Instead, it simply needs ordinary men and women who will allow Jesus to save them, sanctify them and empower them through His Holy Spirit. It does not mean that they will be perfect little Christian robots. It simply means that they will allow the Holy Spirit to infill them, lead them and continue to transform them into the image of Jesus Christ.