The Adoration by the Shepherds

The sublimity of heaven encounters the humility of earth. The image is full of pairs: Joseph and Mary, the Child and the lamb, two shepherds, two angels, two beasts. One of the angels points to divinity in heaven while the other points to divinity in the child come to earth. The animals recall Isaiah 1:3: “An ox knows its owner and a donkey its master’s manger.” The incongruous temple column perhaps represents the Old Law now transcended. The lamb is symbolic of the future sacrifice of Jesus, “the Lamb of God.”