Discover more from Musings of Jamie
What Was Waiting for The Prodigal Son
The Joy of Being Found
I’ve always been drawn to paintings that beautifully capture human emotion. I love wandering through art museums, taking time to look at masterpieces, and be amazed at what people can do with talent they were blessed with. I have plenty of favorites and love when one captures me. Rembrandt’s The Return of the Prodigal Son quickly caught my attention when I first encountered it years ago. Painted between 1663-1665, it now resides at The State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.
As you might have guessed from the title, this painting tells the story of the wayward son’s return in Luke 15. After insulting his father by asking for his inheritance while he was still alive and squandering it in meaningless living, at his lowest point in life he returns home, hoping to be treated as a servant, knowing there stood little chance to be treated as a son once again.
But love awaited him instead.
I love the lighting in this painting. It immediately draws your attention to the elderly man, the father, comforting the beggar his son had become. His son’s head is shaved and only one shoe is still on. Whether the other slipped off or broke, we don’t know. But you see how the Father claimed his son with both hands. The son, who he thought was lost forever. His eyes are closed, maybe there are too many tears so he can’t see straight, but he looks like he never wants to ever let go.
This painting not only captures the ending of the well known parable, but captures the emotions the reunion experienced. One of mercy and one of love. And maybe because of what the parable represents—God’s never ending love and how He is always waiting with open arms for our return no matter how far away we go—the painting draws me in even more.
What the son must have felt walking up the familiar yet unfamiliar path. He was ready to accept whatever awaited him. But never could he have never imagined that his Father would run towards him and embrace him in such undignified fashion. That the only reaction from his Dad would be joy. Joy at his safe return.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” Luke 15:20
And after experiencing the embrace of unconditional love, the son too experienced joy. The joy of once lost, but then found.
May you experience that kind of joy today.
© 2023 Jamie Lapeyrolerie