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Archive for October 31st, 2010

We Pray:

Almighty and gracious Lord, pour out Your Holy Spirit on Your faithful people. Keep us steadfast in Your grace and truth, protect and deliver us in times of temptation, defend us against all enemies, and grant to Your Church Your saving peace; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

Intro:  The painting below is by Lucas Cranach the Elder.  He lived in Saxony in the 16th Century and was  a friend of  Martin Luther. It seems that their families were friends.  The painting depicts Law and Gospel.  The proper distinction between Law and Gospel (or Promise) was first taught in The Book of Concord, the Apology of the Augsburg Confession:  “All Scripture should be divided into these two chief doctrines, the law and the promises.”  Both the Law and the Gospel IS God’s Word to us:  to show us our sin and then show us our Savior.  We so need both.  The Word is rightly divided between Law and Gospel and is yet one Word of God doing two things, slaying the sinner and making alive the man in Christ ,  but Law and Gospel  must not be divorced from each other.  Cranach’s painting depicts this distinction.  In the painting, on the bottom, are the Scripture quotes which are the basis of Cranach’s painting:  see last paragraph below for those passages. 

Obviously, Cranach wanted his painting to teach us about the  proper distinction between the Law and Promise (Gospel).  It might be helpful to copy and paste this painting to get a larger look at it. Here are some questions to get you into the painting.  Post your answers for a discussion:

  1. Note the tree in the middle which divides the painting:  What is the difference between it on the left and the right side of it? In good Catechism fashion, What does this mean?
  2. How would you describe the three presentations of the Lord Jesus Christ?  What is significant about their placement?
  3. What is pointing to in the Law side?  The Gospel side? To what are they pointing?  Who are the figures doing the pointing? What does this mean?
  4. What Old Testament scenes depicted on the Law side?  Is their Gospel or Promise in the Law side? Is their Law in the Gospel side?
  5. Who is chasing the man in the left side?  What destination is the man headed?  What destination is the man headed on the right side?
  6. What lies under the feet of the lamb?  Who is the lamb? 
  7. Who is the naked man on each side of the painting? Different men or the same man?
  8. Is there a continuity between the two halves?  If so, what is it?
  9. What  do the Scripture quotes tell us about the painting?
  10. Do you have questions about this painting?

The Law is headed by a citation from Romans 1.18: “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men.” The Gospel is headed by a verse of Isaiah 7.14, which shows the prophetic link between the Old and New Testaments: “The Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son.” Beneath the depiction of hte Law are quotations spelling out its significance ( Romans 3.23; 1 Corinthians 15.56; Romans4.15; Romans 3.20 and Matthew 11.13). The Gospel is likewise supplied with texts on faith (Romans 1.17 and 3.21 –both classic expressions of the basic Lutheran doctrine that the just live through faith), and expressing the hope of salvation (John 1.29; 1 Peter 1.2 and 1 Corinthians 15.55).

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