Last Updated 15 Apr 2020

Saint Columba Altarpiece

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The painting depicts the prediction of the birth of Jesus and how it came to pass. This happened after the visitation of angel Gabriel to Mary, who was a simple and humble Jewish woman. The angel broke the news to Mary that she had found favor with God, and she will conceive and give birth to a son, Jesus. He further elaborated that Jesus would be the son of God, the most high. At this point, Mary was totally confused and worried about the abrupt news but she later consoled herself and said since she was God's servant, she will do as he says.

Moreover, Mary was betrothed to a man called Joseph, who lived in Nazareth. During this time, a Roman emperor, Caesar Augustus had ordered a census and both Mary and Joseph had to travel to the town of Bethlehem. The journey took them several days and by the time they arrived, the inn was already full and they were compelled to spend their night near the livestock's shed. Coincidentally, Mary gave birth to Jesus and laid him in a manger.

In the same night, there were shepherds in the field near Bethlehem and were watching over their flocks. Suddenly, the angel appeared to them and broke the good news to them that savior, the Messiah had been born and is lying in a manger. (Freed, Edwin D 2004). They immediately hurried to the place and found Jesus as they were directed. They later went to spread the news. Later, wise men saw a star in the sky that signified the birth of a new king.

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They followed it to the place where Jesus was and knelt down to worship him. They brought him gifts of gold, myrrh, and frankincense. According to Mosaic laws, Jesus was taken to the temple where he was named, circumcised and purified. This was conducted by Simeon. During the visitation of Jesus by wise men, the gifts were used as a symbol of honor to the born king. Joseph was a simple village man who lived in Nazareth. He was chosen by God to be the earthly father of Jesus.

He was a carpenter and had gathered exceptional skills in craft work. He feared God and he would obey him in face of severe humiliation. He came from a humble background and this subjected him to engage in carpentry. Also, Joseph was a man of strong conviction and lived his beliefs in his actions.

He is celebrated for his obedience and patience even after Mary, his fiancé gave birth to Jesus although she was a virgin. Jesus was regarded as an artist because he used to give verbal, visual and dramatic forms to the complicated situations. He taught the word of God by giving analogies, parables, and creative expressions. According to the gospels, his birth took place on November of 5 B.C at Bethlehem. After he completed his work on earth, he died on A.D 33 at a place called Golgotha.

He was known for using parables in his teachings. (John P. Meler 1992). The original location of his artwork was first meant to be viewed in synagogues, where he presented various sermons. Moreover, this artwork was religious and was meant to make his followers think critically so as to understand the word of God fully.

Also, they were used as a means of illustrating profound and divine truths. He claimed that such stories were easily remembered and indicated symbolism that was rich in meaning. He further told his disciples that the essence of using parables is because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to them. According to Michael Grant, the entire artwork can be traced back to Gospel period where absolute chronology of Jesus is explained into details.

Further, this historical period is recorded in a number of historical and non-Christian documents like Jewish and Greco-Roman sources. Further information indicated that the baptism and crucifixion of Jesus marked prominent historical events. This period simply means the genesis of the good news and it cut across various groups of people.

During this period, Jesus started his ministry, which was later considered as fulfillment of New Testament prophecies. He walked down all cities along with his disciples preaching the gospel and urging the people to repent so as to see the kingdom of God. This took him the whole of his lifetime on earth. During this period, he faced mockery and humiliation from some groups although he had a good number of followers.

According to Ben Witherington III, the artwork was made to make the Christians understand that those who humble themselves, God uplifts them. This is portrayed when Virgin Mary, a simple village woman was visited by an angel and informed her of good news. Later, the birth of Jesus in the manger indicated the humble beginning of his life.

It also expressed that Jesus was the king since he was visited by various people who came to worship him. Also, Christians should understand the need of recognizing the church as the temple of God. Even the parent of Jesus observed mosaic laws and took him to the temple for various rituals. Therefore, Christians should follow the footsteps of Jesus by obeying the word of God.

Works Cited

  1. Ben Witherington III. (1998). "Primary Sources". Christian History, 17(3), 12-20.Freed, Edwin D (2004). "Stories of Jesus' Birth". Continuum International: 119. John P. Meler (1992).
  2. Bordering Jew on Reconsidering the Historical Jesus. "A Chronology of Jesus Life," pp. 375-433. Anchor Bible Reference Library. Michael Grant. (1977). Jesus. An Historian's Review of the Gospels, p.71 Scribner's

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