Mary and Joseph finally, after three long days of searching, find Jesus in the Temple. They’re overjoyed but also just relieved and confused as to why God would hide Himself from them.
This is one of 12 paintings for the Ascension Press program “What We Believe” found here.
As part of the program I worked closely with the team to come up with each composition, and for this one we fell in love with Philippe de Champaigne’s depiction of the Finding in the Temple as the perfect depiction of the search for Jesus, going out to meet God, God coming to meet us.
The figures were kept, the faces changed, and the background simplified to be unified with the other 12 paintings.
Jesus, barely a teenager, stands on the steps of the temple, holding a scroll of the Law in His hand. He is the Word made Flesh. He descends the step, coming towards his parents, bringing them the first public inkling of the Gospel. He is in His Father’s house. He raises his hand to Heaven, gesturing casually in unspoken question as to why they would have looked for him elsewhere.
Had Mary and Joseph not returned for Him, it’s believed He would have started His public ministry at this moment, young though He was. Just as He would after the Wedding Feast of Cana, He had begun preaching at the Synagogues, first with questions. All who heard were astounded at his understanding and answers.
But Mary and Joseph return to bring Him back home, worry and relief plain on their faces and bodies. They have searched for three days for God, unable to find Him anywhere. But now they find Him where He would be; in His Father’s house.
Also, if you’re wondering why Mary is wearing opposite colors is because we brought in some of the beautiful roots of Byzantine iconography into several of these prints.
In Byzantine iconography, Mary wears blue and is clothed in red because her humanity (red) covered the divinity (blue) of Jesus in her womb. While Jesus wears red and is clothed in blue because his humanity is clothed in his Divinity. In Byzantine art, their colors are opposites of each other.
In Western art, Mary wears red for her humanity that is clothed in the blue divine graces she has received as being the Mother of God. But interestingly, in Western art, Jesus wears the same colors as iconography – if He and Mary appear together, she has a more pink than red dress.