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The Outsiders

Jonathan Grant

There are so many powerful images in the parables and passion of Luke. He weaves together this narrative so skilfully of “the outsiders”, both in the stories that Jesus tells, and in the people who surround Jesus in his final days. 

In the parables we have the stories of the rich man inviting the poor to a banquet, the lost sheep, the lost coin, the lost (prodigal) son, Lazarus the beggar, the persistent widow, the pharisee and the tax collector…

In Christ’s last days we see Jesus spending time with tax collectors and sinners, Simon from Cyrene who carries Christ’s cross, the children who are welcomed to his feet, ALL THE WOMEN (who normally weren’t on the centre of jewish religious life), Jesus healing men with leprosy, healing the blind man, Zacchaeus the tax collector, The criminals hanging next to christ. 

Painting this altarpiece was a huge breakthrough for my faith journey. As I sat by myself in the attic of ACP reading Luke, I found myself turning the pages faster and faster. Each story started connecting to the other. Suddenly the words were alive for me. The repetitive themes of “those who believe without permission” and without “being invited” started to resonate.

What stood out to me were the repetitive themes: “Foreigners, Children, Strangers, The Sick, The Weak, The Oppressed The Marginalised”, along with the constant call to: “Go out into the highways and bring those were weren’t invited” or find that one lost sheep / find that coin / run to that son / purchase that pearl. We see Christ constantly affirming that “the club” in not necessarily in touch with his vision. It is to the criminal dying next to christ, the one who was not “invited” to believe or understand, or join the club- to this man who believed without invitation Christ says: “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

What i hope that I have portrayed in this work is a bit of the spiritual “reality” behind our world… The desperate hands of the “uninvited” eagerly grasping at a seed of hope. Hands outstretched in expectation and belief. Faith in the banquet. This piece (for me) is the “behind the scenes” look at what is really going on… This is what I see in my mind now when I see an “outsider”. 

More than anything, I hope that this piece invites you to consider the texts in a new way, as my time meditating on Luke has changed and challenged me personally. Wishing you so many blessings as you complete your Lenten journey, and we together await CHRIST’S resurrection. 

(Special thanks to Moki for these images, and to all the dear friends who sat with me in the attic while I painted)