the Light of the world

The most prized possession of Keble College, Oxford is this painting by William Holman Hunt. Hunt painted it in 1853-54, inspired by Revelation 3:20 about Jesus standing at the door and knocking, waiting to come in and sup with those who hear his voice and open the door. He titled his work, “The Light of the World.” It may be the most famous painting of Jesus in which he does not appear on the cross. He appears knocking on a long-unused and overgrown door, faintly lit by the general light of the moon, carrying in his hand a brilliantly glowing lantern. The painting is placed in a little room connected to the Keble chapel.

I am grateful to William Holman Hunt for this image. I will tuck it away with my favorite pictures of the risen Christ, to be recalled when I need light in the darkness. The lantern he holds is real, and its rays illumine that poor overgrown doorway. I can’t wait for the man inside to open the door and see it. Open it wide, dark man. Open it all the way.

Jesus is the light of the world. Like Zechariah said when his son John the Baptist was born to proclaim him, Jesus is the sunrise.

“…because of the tender mercy of our God,

whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high

to give light to those who sit in the darkness and in the shadow of death,

to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

Luke 1:78-79

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2 Responses to the Light of the world

  1. Heather Labudde says:

    Hello, Betsy, Norah and Alex
    You must try roast beef and Yorkshire “pudding” (the British version of an American
    “popover”) and I think you will find that it is not so bland! It was nice to see the inside of your flat..I thought it was very nice! I love the big windows especially.
    I had to comment on the wonderful picture of Jesus that I saw here today on your
    blog..I don’t remember when I first saw that exact picture..but I told my mom about
    it and fortunately received it as a present and it is now framed and hanging in my
    living room (you probably didn’t see it, Betsy, when you came to babysit Timothy on
    that very happy day 🙂 ). I was so drawn to that portrayal of Jesus. I remember talking to someone about the fact that there is no door knob where Jesus is knocking. He cannot simply turn a knob and go in because He is waiting for the person inside to open it. Perhaps you had already thought of that.
    I hope you are feeling quite well. Blessings to you all,
    Heather LaBudde

  2. James says:

    There is a further story to go with this. When Mr. Hunt was painting this, a friend and visitor had a look at it just before it was completed. I’ll have to find out the man’s name again. This person turned to Mr. Hunt and said, “but you’ve missed something”. Mr. Hunt more or less replied, “what do you mean?” The other gentlemen said something to the effect, there’s no door handle on the door, to which Mr. Hunt replied, nothing is missing. The door is your heart. The only handle is on the inside. It cannot be opened from the outside.

    More words were never true, and that response is the reason why the painting is so valuable to me. The truth is valuable to me and I try to seek it everyday.

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