April 22-28 - "What Shall I Do to Inherit Eternal Life?"
Daniel Bartholomew (American, born 1971)
Seventy Times Seven (2015)
ink on paper, 12.5 x 58 inches
Collection of Dan and Sherlene Bartholomew
Used with permission of the artist
For the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ 10th International Competition in 2015, the theme was “Tell Me the Stories of Jesus.” The artist Daniel Bartholomew had previously created graphic works of colorful geometric shapes, but he determined to make something that he could submit to the competition, which would need to be narrative, in some way. He hit upon the idea of presenting as a geometric image Matthew 18:21-22, “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” Bartholomew created rows 70 wide by 7 high: 490 squares. Noting that the word “forgive” is seven letters long, he write a letter in each square and then wrote the entire scriptural passage underneath it. The drawing, which was awarded a merit prize by the Church History Museum, showed visitors at a glance the profundity of the Savior’s admonition—that seventy times seven is a lot.
In some ways, Batholomew’s Seventy Times Seven connects to a long line of Christian symbols. An abundance of iconography exists of religious symbols from Christian, Byzantine, Romanesque, and Gothic eras. These symbols, images, and monograms decorated tombs, tapestries, manuscripts, architecture, coins, and much more. The cross is one such image, but there are many more that appear in the Church’s architecture and art.
Just as Bartholomew presents a visual image of the number of times we should forgive, Jesus presented a parable to illustrate His teaching. He told Peter the story of a king who forgave his servant of a large debt with compassion, only to have the servant mercilessly pursue another for a considerably smaller debt owed to the servant (Matthew 18:22-35). What roles do mercy and compassion play in our own extension of forgiveness to others?
In describing how many times Jesus will forgive us, He said, "Yea, and as often as my people repent will I forgive them their trespasses against me" (Mosiah 26:30). Jesus did not put a numerical boundary on His forgiveness, but instead His forgiveness is as limitless as our sincere desire to do better and to earnestly try again. How does this understanding of His boundless love impact your perception of the Savior's allowance of multiple second chances to you?
How does the weight of failing to forgive hamper our growth?
How can we forgive "seventy times seven" and yet avoid being taken advantage of or abused?
Tell us what you think. How do you like the Come, Follow Me (Art Companion)?