Friend of Sinners
A kiss. And yet more than just a kiss. It's an invitation into a friendship and encounter with the One who befriends sinners in order that they will never be the same again. Will we say yes?
When the Lord began highlighting His identity as a "Friend" or philos in the Greek, I was completely unsure how He would have me to depict this aspect of His nature.
I only knew it was term that indicated close relationship and that the relatives of this term are phileo(to love) and philema(a kiss).
It wasn't until one night as I was praying for a renewal of my first love, I felt Him take my head in His hands and give me a kiss on top of my head. Little did I know that a kiss was exactly what He would have me to paint.
I was hesitant to say the least to try and put this encounter into visual form, and was also confused as to how to this vision related to His nature as our Friend.
In my search for a reference photo from which to work, it wasn't long before I stumbled upon a familiar scene from a movie I grew up with, Jesus of Nazareth.
The story is one of my favorites and always moves me to tears. With it came the final understanding of why Jesus had impressed this imagery along with His identity as our Friend.
The scene opens with Jesus at Simon's house sharing the words found in Luke 7:34-35. In it, He is exposing the judgment of the Pharisees who have accused Him of being afriend to tax collectors and sinners.
As I soon as I heard this, it all made sense. Jesus was trying to remind me and us that He was not just one who befriended those who seemed to have it all together; He seeks those who are struggling, weak and forsaken by all.
His love is so great that it searches out sinners and calls them into an embrace of friendship that changes them forever. This would be proved in the next few moments as the scene unfolded at Simon's house.
Suddenly, without any warning, a known prostitute is bursting into the room and before anyone can protest she throws herself at the feet of Jesus with broken sobs and kisses of extravagant love poured out on his weary and dusty feet.
With great love in response His love, she tangibly shows her repentance. In a moment she has already won Jesus' forgiveness and is transformed instantly.
Immediately I knew I needed to capture this transformation in the painting and this is why I felt Him leading me to paint her, no longer a prostitute, but as the purified bride of Christ washed by His blood and surrounded by a rainbow of His great mercy.
One day, this vision will come to pass as John foresaw: "God lives with humans! God will make His home with them, and they will be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God." (Revelation 21:3)
May we be ever making ourselves ready for that day my friends, filling our lamps with oil, and embracing His call to friendship no matter the cost. In that day we will realize that nothing else matters more than knowing Him and being known by Him!