Captured by Beauty
One summer my family went to Spain. My dad won a tour of Spain for our entire family through his business. I am not sure I really wanted to go. I was, after all, in high school, way too cool to be riding a tour bus around Spain with my family.
But I was only 15, and I had to go.
One afternoon we toured one of the great museums of mankind. I was walking from one old painting to another when I stopped, frozen by the painting in front of me.
There on the wall in front of me was the painting of a man whose body was severely distorted by an agony words couldn’t describe. I leaned forward to see the title of the painting. The words, “The Tears of St. Peter by El Greco” were engraved on the plate under the large canvas. As I leaned back, I felt my legs stiffen. I could not move. As I stared into the tortured face of the Apostle Peter—the painting is set right after his denial of Christ—I was mesmerized by something I could not explain. If you watched the face of Peter, the tears seemed to roll down his face and drip off of his chin. It looked like Peter had been crying for centuries, ever since that awful moment when he betrayed Jesus.
And in that moment I understood the pain of sin and the remorse of guilt. I felt Peter’s panic, realizing that he could not undo what he had done. When I turned and faced the main wall, I saw, in another painting, El Greco portraying himself as the arresting soldier. I know what he was trying to say: We are the reason Jesus died. We are the ones responsible.
I can only wish I would one day preach a sermon that would impact people the way that painting has affected me—and is still affecting me. To this day, I have been captured by beauty.
I understand those who want to produce a logical and coherent presentation of the gospel. But sometimes we forget that one of the most impressive arguments for God is the presence of beauty. God, who Himself is a creator, delights in breath-taking, eye-dazzling beauty.
Our God cannot be described. Our God is beyond our comprehension. Sometimes the glory of our God is best described in sighs of wonder and beauty so stunning it makes your throat hurt.
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