Worship Him :: Jan van Eyck, “The Adoration of the Lamb”

Jan van Eyck, The Adoration of the Lamb (detail of the Ghent altarpiece); oil on panel; between 1425 and 1429.

“Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders.” (Revelation 5:6)

One of the most striking aspects of the book of Revelation is the imagery that abounds within the heavenly scenes of worship. Jesus, who first appears to John in overwhelming glory (Revelation 1:9-20), now appears in chapter 5 as a Lamb looking as if it had been slain. This is a strange picture unless one is familiar with sacrificial imagery throughout Scripture, and particularly references to Jesus as “the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). The Gospel writers labor to show the connection between Jesus and the Passover festival, highlighting Jesus as the One who reveals the love of God and brings ultimate salvation and healing between God and humanity through His sacrifice. “The Adoration of the Lamb” serves as a moving centerpiece of the revered Ghent Altarpiece, assembled by Jan van Eyck and his brother, Hubert. Looking at it, our attention is immediately drawn to the Lamb, standing strong yet bleeding, on the heavenly altar at the very center of this panel, which is surrounded by eleven interior panels on the altarpiece. The quotation mentioned above from John 1:29 is written in Latin on the altarpiece itself, while the fountain below the Lamb has written on it in Latin the phrase: “This is the fountain of the water of life, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb” (drawn from Revelation 22:1). All around the Lamb at the center are angels and human figures who gather in worship before Jesus Christ the Lamb of God. When we consider the wonders of what Jesus has done through His life, death, and resurrection, what can we do but worship Him? He is worthy!