Vulnerability: You Are Not Alone

art blog jesus shame vulnerable Mar 01, 2023

Blog by Gem Fadling

We are so blessed to live near the world class Getty Museum in Los Angeles, CA. The sculptures and paintings as well as the gardens are always a treat for the soul.


I like to peruse the rooms slowly, wandering over to any piece that particularly catches my eye. I like to linger in front of it, noticing if there are any invitations calling out to me.


During a visit a few years ago, one painting in particular caught my attention (pictured above). It is a depiction of the woman caught in adultery by French artist Valentin de Boulogne. His interpretation of the story from the Gospel of John was for me the most penetrating image in that gallery that day.


Since I had the free educational audio, I listened to an artist’s take on this painting as I stood before it. Of course, the artist talked about light, shadow, and color. But what really stood out to me was his commentary on texture. He pointed out the contrast between the hard iron of the guard’s armor and the vulnerable, exposed skin of the woman and of Jesus himself.


As the narrator spoke of their vulnerability, it was as if the painting narrowed to an image of two. Jesus’ connection to the woman in her shame and humiliation stood out like a relief.


She was not alone.


If you know the story, Jesus took the time to put the woman’s accusers in their place. He stooped and wrote on the ground until they all left, dropping their stones on the way out. But what is most striking is Jesus’ vulnerability depicted in solidarity with the woman. The lighting, the skin tones—it all points to Jesus being with her.


Yes, Jesus is strong and mighty, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. But he takes the time to be with the lowly, the humiliated, the vulnerable. I need this personally, don’t you?


This woman’s story was one of adultery. But there are many other reasons why any of us would feel ashamed, humiliated, or vulnerable. 



  • How are you feeling vulnerable these days?
  • Does the weight of shame ever hover over you like a heavy blanket?
  • Linger for a moment over the image of this painting. Are there new ways in which you might sense Jesus being with you in your situation?


Take a few more moments to soak in this image. Let it inform how you see your vulnerabilities today through Jesus’ eyes of love and compassion.



Art Details: Valentin de Boulogne (French, 1591 – 1632), Christ and the Adulteress, about 1620s, Oil on canvas