Types and Shadows

You, looking at this painting, see Jairus, his wife, and his daughter.  I see my parents and my sister, who served as models for the artist.  To me, that says something about the way a work of art can be two things at once (or three, or four, or more) which may in turn help us understand how a scripture can mean two things at once ( or three, or four, or more.)

The first time I saw this painting (right now it’s hanging in the BYU Museum of Art) all I could see were my parents and sister.  It had been months since I had seen them, and when I walked in and saw them hanging there on the wall it hit me in the gut, and all I could think of was how lucky I was to have a family, a family with the kind of love you see in this painting.  There is my sister looking out, and my mother looking at her with the love I know she has for all five of us, and my father with concern pouring out of his eyes.

Later I could see Jairus in my father, and I could imagine my sister raised from the dead.  And what struck me about this painting was how Jairus and his daughter are looking out, as if Christ is standing where you are standing, looking at it, because from the thanks in Jairus’ eyes you know he is looking at the man who just lifted up his dead daughter and somehow made her very much alive again.

And then I saw it again, as my family and there family, and noticed how tight they are, how they are all holding each other, how the mother is holding her daughter with desperation and adoration, so thankful to still be able to hold her, to feel her pulse and her warmth.  And I noticed how healthy, how far-from-death, the daughter looks; how the sickly looking one is her father, the sweat on his brow testament to the crisis he has just gone through, the terrible heart-wrenching despair he has experienced.

Seeing Jairus and my father in this painting, I know this is not only a picture, but a promise.  That by raising the daughter of Jairus from the dead, Christ showed that he has power to raise my sister also.  That my family’s grief, which will someday come, will be swallowed up in the power of Christ as he brings us all forth at that great day.  He raises, he rose, and someday he will lift me from my grave, into the arms of my parents.

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