My Mural and the Easter Story Part 3: “Alive with Him”

My Mural and the Easter Story Part 3: “Alive with Him”

Although this post is getting out a little late, seeing that Easter is already passed, I’d like to finish up on this series about the mural my friend Dave Mattison and I did. I saved the best part for last.

In the previous post, I showed you the image of the cross of Christ, and people stained by sin, desperately climbing out of the mire to be cleansed by the blood of Christ. All of us are in that predicament, and if all of us seek after God, we will find forgiveness flowing out from Calvary.

If we trust in the finished work of Christ–that He alone can save and wash away our sins by His blood, His death being the payment that makes us right before God, we are forgiven. The debt has been paid.

But God doesn’t stop there.


Because Jesus didn’t stop there. He died, but He didn’t stay dead in the tomb. He rose again. The stone was rolled away and the bones are not in the grave.

By the way, the historicity of Jesus resurrection is vital to the Christian faith. Jesus said He would rise again. His resurrection proved the claim that He is the Messiah who came not only to deliver the Jewish people but the Gentiles (most of us) as well.

Bethel Mural: "The Gospel from Genesis to Revelation" by artists Dave Mattison and Matt Philleo, 4' x 28", acrylic on panel, Panel 4 and 5

Bethel Mural: “The Gospel from Genesis to Revelation” by artists Dave Mattison and Matt Philleo, 4′ x 28″, acrylic on panel, Panel 4 and 5

Like the Paul the apostle said, “And if Christ is not raised, your faith is futile. You are still in your sins.” (I Corinthians 15:17)

Fortunately, proof of Jesus resurrection, although denied by some groups today, can be backed up by many accounts in the Bible, as well as a few outside the Bible, and by applying simple logic. I’m not going to go into depth on that in this post. If you want to read more on that subject, check out “The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel.

I want to write about the fact that Jesus’ resurrection gives us power to live a life free from the control of sin. Notice I did not say a life free from sin. I do not believe in sinless perfectionism. Some believe that once you become a Christian, it is possible to never sin again. If you are one of those people, tell me your secret! I haven’t found a person like this yet.

But if we are Christians, born again and bought by the blood of Christ, we are new creatures–alive from the dead, just like Christ is alive from the dead. We don’t live the way we used to.

As Christians, we live a life free from the control of sin.

I still have an old Zenith CRT television set in the living room–with the big glass front–you know, the “old school” TV that you often see sitting next to people’s garbage by the curb. My wife says I can’t get rid of it until it dies. I’ve had this thing since I moved out of my parents’ house in 1998! Unfortunately, it just keeps on going.

My Zenith behemoth of a TV.

My Zenith behemoth of a TV.

Fortunately, I do have a newer Vizio high-definition LCD in my upstairs room that I can use to watch the Packer games. Now imagine if I use the remote control for my old Zenith on that new Vizio. It’s not going to work. It’s not compatible with that TV. Even if I tried to program it to work for the Vizio, it still wouldn’t work, because the old remote doesn’t have the code for a new Vizio TV.

In the same way, as Christians, the old remote control of sin just isn’t compatible with who we are. Neither do the features of the old compare to the new.

We’re a completely different model.

I used to work at Sears as an electronics sales associate just when the new high definition flat screen TVs were hitting the market. The difference between the old and new technology is like night and day.

Sure, I can take my old analog Zenith, and hook up a converter box to it so I can still watch digital broadcasts, but it’s just not the same. The picture is downgraded and fuzzy. (I can’t even make out the scoreboard in a Packer game!) It’s not even close to the clarity you get watching a high-definition broadcast on a high definition TV.

To get the full picture, to get the benefits of being a Christian–peace, joy, a life free from the control of sin–I’ve got to be living like I’m a new person.

And if I am born again, I am a new person, a new creation in Christ and I have those benefits available to me. Why would I want to enjoy the show (live my life) on the old set when I’ve got the new?

But becoming and living as a Christian is more than just a choice that we make. It is a work of God, transforming us from something dead into something alive. And no, this is not like Frankenstein’s monster, who was an hideous amalgamation of body parts stitched together from various corpses, animated by a massive spark of electricity. We are beautiful, a unique masterpiece created by God!

As an artist, I can appreciate that. I tell you what, in the middle of doing a painting, sometimes it looks pretty sketchy. My wife has peeked in on me while I’m working on a portrait, and said, “Matt, it doesn’t look like them. I’m not sure if you can pull this one off.”

Um, thanks.

Well, she knows I can take it! It’s a work in progress. With God’s help, sooner or later, I almost always “pull it off.”

Before and After: Portrait of Pastor and Mrs. Palser, acrylic on canvas

Before and After: Portrait of Pastor and Mrs. Palser, acrylic on canvas

Now think about God–the master artist. How much more is He going to be able to “pull it off?” I tell you, He’s going to be able to finish the work He started in you, every time. Just don’t be a canvas that runs away out of the studio! Let the Master do His thing.

“And He died for all, that those who live, should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” (2 Corinthians 5:15)

Are you a part of “all”? Then this applies to you too. When we are trust in Jesus, have faith in Him, and are born again, because of the work God has done in us, we won’t even want to live for ourselves. Our natural response will be to live for the one who gave us life, out of gratitude, not out of begrudging duty. God gives us His Holy Spirit to help us to follow Him too. In the mural, that is symbolized by the dove. The Holy Spirit is gentle and yet very powerful. Jesus gave Him to us as a gift.

Bethel Mural: "The Gospel from Genesis to Revelation" by artists Dave Mattison and Matt Philleo, 4' x 28", acrylic on panel, Panel 4 and 5

Bethel Mural: “The Gospel from Genesis to Revelation” by artists Dave Mattison and Matt Philleo, 4′ x 28″, acrylic on panel, Panel 4, detail

If you’ve been a Christian for a while like me (15 years now) you can lose the spark you once had as you begin to think you have to do certain things to keep yourself saved or acceptable before God. You may find reading your Bible, praying, going to church, talking to others about Jesus is not exciting or even interesting like it once was.

There is only one thing that will truly motivate you to live a life pleasing to God. Remember what Jesus did for you on the cross, and thank Him. 

“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” (Colossians 2:13-14)

When your world is falling apart, remember that Jesus has risen. Out of the darkness and despair of of the crucifixion, Jesus arose, emerging out of the tomb, like a conqueror, with his foot on the neck of Death. He will enter into your life if you let Him, and light will arise in the darkness!

Share Your Thoughts!

If you have any comments or questions about this post, please leave me your feedback below! I will personally get back to you. Can you help me spread the word? Please share this post with your family and friends by using the social media links on the side or below. Thank you!

"I have inscribed you on the palm of my hands."

Inscribed6a 500px

"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!

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  1. Truly beautiful and inspiring work Matt!! Thank you for sharing your amazing gift!

    • Matt Philleo

      Appreciate the kind words, Kim. God bless!


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