Last week, I wrote about the 4′ x 28′ mural my friend Dave Mattison and I did for our church, illustrating the Gospel message from Genesis to Revelation. In that post, I showed some images of creation, the fall with the sin Adam and Eve committed in the Garden of Eden, the flood with Noah’s ark, and then the Ten Commandments.
The Ten Commandments reveal to us, like a mirror showing any dirt on our face, how we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Being that it’s Good Friday, I want to share the middle section of the mural, what it’s about and what it means to me, and how I think it can speak to all of us.
Before I do that, though, I’ll share the panel before it.
There’s not a lot here, except a lot of darkness. This is how it is for all of us before God reveals to us the awesomeness of His Son Jesus Christ. The river flowing below is black with the venom of sin. Death, destruction, and devastation covers the earth.
Above however, we do see the rainbow, symbolizing the promise of God that He would never again the flood the whole earth as He did in Noah’s day. I think it’s also a symbol of God’s mercy being extended to us.
In the middle panel, we have the cross of Christ. Notice Jesus is not on the cross.
Because He is up in heaven right, seated at His Father’s right hand.
There are churches depicting Jesus as being on the cross, and although I think they do it that way to help us to remember His passion, we have to remember that He died once for us. He was sacrificed once for us. He does not go perpetually, and is not offered up repeatedly on an altar for us. That happened once in history almost 2,000 years ago, but His blood keeps on cleansing from our sin.
In the last post, I mentioned how our sin is missing the mark of God’s perfection. In order to appreciate what Jesus has done for us, we have to recognize the seriousness of our sin, and that God must punish our sins to accord with His own sense of justice.
A little child can understand why sin has to be punished.
When my daughter was about 3 or 4, we were reading through the book of Romans in the Bible one night, and she asked me about how people can go to hell and if that’s fair for God to send people there?
I motioned toward the window, and asked her “What would you think if there was a police officer sitting in his car in the parking lot, and a guy came up to an old lady and beat her and took her purse, but the police officer saw it but did nothing to help her?”
“That would be bad,” she replied. “He should have helped the lady!”
I would go further and say that the police officer would be as bad as the criminal!
Here’s another example, borrowed from a preacher…
Imagine that you return home one night to find your family brutally murdered, you catch the criminal red handed, manage somehow to wrestle him to the ground, and tie him up. You call the police and they take him away.
Later, at the trial, with every shred of evidence clearly convicting the criminal of murder, the judge says, “I know you are guilty. But I’m a good judge, and today it’s your lucky day. I’m going to let you go free!”
What would you do?
I think you would call and write everyone you knew–the newspapers, the governor, saying that there is a judge on the bench more wicked that the criminal he just acquitted!
If we expect a judge to be just and do his duty, how can we expect the Judge of all the earth to not do His?
God cannot just let us off the hook. Sin must be punished.
God, knowing beforehand what needed to be done, did something about it! He sent His Son Jesus, who is both completely God and completely Man, to live a perfect life on this earth, and take our place on the cross, being punished for our sins.
Although we have sinned in many ways–lying, stealing, gossip, slander, lust, etc–Jesus never sinned even once. He always did what God the Father wanted Him to do.
Justice demands a payment. If you break the law, and get fined, you either have to pay or go to jail. But if you are broke, (which we all are, spiritually speaking) and someone offers to pay your fine, the debt is satisfied, and you can go free.
The Bible says, “Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness for sin.” Life is in the blood. God demands that blood must be shed to pay the price for sin.
Sin brings death, but the righteous blood of Jesus cleanses our sin, and brings us life.
Jesus was whipped, beaten and bruised, after His own people rejected Him and sentenced Him to be crucified. He was mocked and spit at. On the cross, Jesus experienced what it was like to be separated from God the Father, as he felt God’s wrath for all our sins fall upon Him.
During crucifixion day, there were about three hours of darkness that fell over the land. I believe it was during this particular time that Jesus experienced this unimaginable torment of God’s hatred of sin, focused like the sun’s rays through a magnifying glass, upon the Man who always did everything right His whole life. Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” (Mark 15:34)
The Bible says “All we like sheep have gone astray and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6)
He made Him who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Jesus literally became accursed for us, while on the cross, so that we would be free of the curse of death! When it was all done, He gave up His life, breathed His last and said, “It is finished.” (John 19:30)
“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:23)
When we trust in what Jesus did for us on the cross, his blood shed, his death on our behalf, we are justified. Justifed–that is a legal term meaning although we are not inherently righteous through our own behavior, we are declared righteous by God and treated as if we are! God gives His righteousness to us as a gift.
Amazing! To think that God would do that for us–while we were rebellious towards God, He made a way for us to be restored to Him. And He did this because of His great love for us. “Not that we loved God, but that God loved us and sent His Son as atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
Here we see in this detail image, the blood cleanses the black venom of sin, restoring it to a river of life flowing out our lives. Remember the words of the famous hymn? “Oh, precious is the flow, that makes me white as snow. No other fount I know. Nothing but the blood of Jesus.” You can see the joy written on the older lady’s face as she experiences the wonder of sins forgiven!
That’s great news, that we don’t have to try to make ourselves perfect to come to God. We can “approach the throne of grace to find mercy and help in our time of need.” We can come with our fears, disappointments, hurts, and failures and bring them to the cross.
As we head into Easter, let’s think again about all the Jesus suffered for us. Let’s keep going back to the cross, remembering that there is a God who loves us, will forgive us, and continue to cleanse us of our sins if we trust in His Son.
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"I have inscribed you on the palm of my hands."
"Inscribed," Pencil on Paper, by Matt Philleo
One day, when I was discouraged I read a verse in the Bible, in Isaiah, 49:15-16, where it says, "Can a woman forget her nursing child And have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. Behold, I have inscribed you on the palm of my hands." This verse brought such encouragement, that I created this original work of art to share the incredible love of God with others, including you!
Get a free 8 x 10 copy of this drawing that you can use to print, share, or as wallpaper!