Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Who Brings A Lit Lantern To A Dinner Party?

"Light of the World", by
William Holman Hunt, based
on Revelation 3:20

In the famous painting depicting Christ from Revelation 3:20 ("Behold I stand at the door and knock..."), called "The Light of the World", William Holman Hunt shows Jesus knocking at a door in an overgrown orchard at night. Christ is holding a lit lantern. But this glowing lantern seems unnecessary because of the brilliant moonlight which enables the viewer to clearly make out the scene. F.W. Boreham was in London in 1924 and visited Mr Hunt's famous painting at St. Paul's Cathedral. He understood that the artist meant to show that there was no door-handle on the outside of the door. He understood that the overgrown vegetation over the door meant to show that the inhabitants rarely ventured outside. But the lantern? There was no need for it.

Yet Boreham knew that Mr Hunt wasted nothing in his allegorical art. He remarked to his wife that this was a mystery to him. A kindly older gentlemen standing just behind Dr. Boreham interrupted with an apology for eaves-dropping. He excused himself by pointing out that he was no further away than Mr Boreham's elbow when he expressed this mystery. "I knew Mr Hunt well" he said. "If you would permit me, I can enlighten you with what Mr Hunt himself told me about the lantern." F.W. Boreham welcomed the offer.

Dr. F.W. Boreham with
Mrs Stella Boreham
The artist's friend explained that Mr Hunt wanted to convey that Christ was knocking on the door of a lukewarm church. Because there is no handle on the outside, the occupants must open up to Christ and invite Him in. But this church is located on the edge of the orchard adjacent to the wild woods. While Christ wanted entry to the church, it wasn't to be for too long because He really wanted to lead the occupants out of their dwelling and to journey with Him into the darkness of the wild woods - hence His lantern was lit and trimmed. The church becomes lukewarm when it ceases to venture out into the darkness with the light of Christ.

Christ is still knocking and He still bears a lit lantern to guide His Church into the darkness to rescue a lost world. Let us open up to Christ and enjoy our times with Him but recognise that He bids us to not just "go" but to "go with Him".

[From my upcoming daily devotional through the Book of Revelation]

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