The fiery redness surrounding the hunched silhouette could almost be felt. The infernal glow was so intense that the only other visible objects were black, like they had already been charred by the flames. I was overwhelmed. How could such intensity be captured with just a camera lens? This photo was spellbinding. But the story behind the photo was what really captured my heart. The photographer, Matthew Abbott, told how he had gotten alerted to the photoshoot opportunity at a moment’s notice while reporting in Australia over the last month or so. You can guess what his article was about. He was documenting the wildfires in Australia and he had to find a snapshot that would capture the drama and intensity of what the locals and wild animals were facing. He headed out to document a particularly intense fire at Lake Conjola. Every house in the area was burning and locals were hosing down their houses with t-shirts wrapped around their faces. As he surveyed this crisis, Abbott raised his camera and clicked. And this photo captured the last several weeks of windstorms, and rising flames, and acres of forest and brush and habitat and homes being destroyed were captured.
As we’ve often heard, a picture is worth a thousand words. And after seeing the power of a photo when it comes to reporting an event, let us ask ourselves, how powerful can one scene be when it comes to the lessons of Scripture? Do you know what it feels like when a particular scene in a story captures the message so powerfully? Perhaps it’s that twisted piece of wood raised high on the skull-shaped hill—the cross of Christ. Perhaps it’s the scene of a knife raised above a humble lamb, bound on the altar of sacrifice. Perhaps its Christ’s hands gently touching the frayed nerves of a man suffering with leprosy. Perhaps its Christ reaching down powerfully into the waves to pull Peter out of danger. Whatever the scene, we can resonate with Jesus as He presented a powerful word picture to Nicodemus: “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:5-8. The intense, dramatic, messy, and deeply joyful process of delivering a newborn must have grabbed Nicodemus’ mind like vise. And that moment must have inspired and guided him in following Jesus for many years to come. We can all relearn the power of an inspiring scene from Jesus ministry as we step forward with Him.