Stanley Spencer’s ‘Christ in the Wilderness’

I’m listening to a lecture (‘Consuming Creatures: The Christian Ethics of Eating Animals) by David Clough through Facebook Live right now. He has mentioned two things that caught my attention. The first is an interpretation of Mark 1.13, which contains the statement that ‘He [Christ] was with the wild animals…’ Clough suggested that this refers to Isaiah 11.1 -9’s Peaceable Kingdom. I had never understood that line, and I’ll have to think about this more, but it’s a marvelous reading that would really impact how I hear Mark 1.14-15, where Jesus (following the arrest of John the Baptist) goes into Galilee ‘proclaiming the good news of God’ which contains the claim ‘The kingdom of God has come near.’

The second is the art series by Stanley Spencer, ‘Christ in the Wilderness’, which may be inspired by Mark 1.13. It’s a beautiful series. And according to Clough, Spencer depicts the animals mentioned in Jesus’ sermons, imagining that he encountered them in the wilderness. Here are some samples:

Christ in the Wilderness—the Scorpion
Christ in the Wilderness—the Hen
Christ in the Wilderness—the Foxes
Christ in the Wilderness—the Lilies

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