Another Word…by Gus Keiser

June 4, 2018

Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is our fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced His perfect love.

                                                                                                                       1 John 4:18

 Housed and displayed in the Louvre in Paris is a painting by Max Gabriel which could serve as a perfect portrayal for the above text from the book of First John. The painting is entitled The Last Token. It depicts a scene from the days when Christians became innocent victims to bloody persecution and even death because of their faith.  One of the individuals in this painting is a beautiful young woman, at the very point of being savaged by a pack of wild animals.  Gabriel portrays her standing against the stone wall of the amphitheater where the persecution is taking place.  Above her, eager for the spectacle to begin, are seated rows of cheering and jeering spectators anxious to see the impending carnage.  The iron gates through which the wild animals will enter the arena have been thrown open.  Through the gates is seen coming a starved and furious tiger rushing toward the woman.

The woman is dressed in white with a dark cloak covering her head and shoulders. A pure white rose lies at her feet, thrown from the seats above by a loved one.  Her eyes are turned upward, gazing only at the one who has thrown her the rose, so she doesn’t even see the rapidly approaching beast

The hatred of those gathered in the arena’s seats, along with their total despising of this Christian woman and her faith has caused them to pronounce this death sentence upon her. So they wait, anxious for the tiger to, at any moment, lunge at the woman, mall her and kill her.  Yet it is that single rose that has entirely changed the scene portrayed in this painting.  This day there would be no wild animal devouring her, there would be no blood-soaked sand on the floor of the arena, and there would be no shrieking and cheering crowd…just a single pure white rose and a love that would allow her to triumph over cruelty and hatred…thus assuring us that love is, indeed, stronger than fear.

God of love, our hearts rejoice when we consider what your love does; that you sent your only Son, that pure white and beautiful rose, to atone for our sins.  Thank you, Lord for this selfless, loving act.  Amen.

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