“God Reconciling” digital art by © Donna Gonzalez
I wanted to share with you a post I written a while ago that I still think is apropos for this Lenten season.
That artwork up there is not a painting rather its a mixed media graphic art composition I did last summer after spending quite some time pondering on II Corinthians 5:18-20 and Romans 5:6-11. It was supposed to be a painting but having considered the depth of what was pondered, painting what was in my head on canvas that adequately captured the full meaning of it was quite difficult. And still this graphic composition doesn’t fully show what I meant to portray; perhaps it’s an impossibility.
Iconography: I had no wood laying around so I made a cross using two large cinnamon sticks. Cinnamon symbolizes the fragrant sweet life of Jesus our Lord. The Ceylon cinnamon pictured below has a uneven textured surface, often with holes or damaged areas and is made up of multiple layers of rolled bark which when peeled apart break easily. This cinnamon symbolized our Lord Jesus after being beaten and scourged which left His body bruised, broken, lacerated and torn apart in ribbons. Not knowing this until later, but the ground bark of this cinnamon as well as cassia was used in the holy anointing oil for the priests in the Old Testament as they ministered to God in His tabernacle and then later in the Temple (Exodus 30:22-30). Isn’t that what Jesus is – our holy anointed High Priest? I’m sure there’s probably a sermon hidden in all of that!
The flames enveloping the cross represent God the Father as Hebrews 12:29 states, “For our God is a consuming fire.” Jesus isn’t shown on the cross because this artwork is an allegory. Sufficient to say, Jesus the One Who knew no sin became sin and in His great love for us took upon Himself the full penalty that was ours – His Father’s wrath against sin. Just as fire annihilates, Jesus destroyed the power of Satan, sin and conquered it (Hebrews 2:14).
Jesus sacrificed His life for all of humanity represented by the dark green rays extending outward from the cross reaching out towards every corner of the world. (II Corinthians 5:15). Simultaneously He poured out His blood for all of humanity that everyone, everywhere can be forgiven by God represented by the bright red rays extending outward from the cross (Matthew 26:28, John 3:16-17).
God the Father was at work in His Son reconciling us toward Himself. He extends His forgiveness of sins through the shed blood of His Son (Hebrews 9:22) granting us eternal salvation which is represented by the bright burst of green emanating from the cross reaching anyone, far and near (Ephesians 2:13) who would believe in His Son and accept His free gift of salvation (Ephesians 2:8). Both the Father and the Son worked in tandem to secure our salvation (John 3:16-17). Only the Son of God could endure the wrath of God. Only the Son of God could break the power of sin and death. No angel, no mortal nor demon. Later the Spirit of God would raise Jesus on the third day (Romans 8:11). At a very important time in history – the Creation of the world, all three persons of the Trinity were actively at work likewise at another significant time in history, the cross of Christ, all three persons of the Trinity were at work.
And yet, I had to correct my thinking on a point while meditating on this. One, that I had always thought a specific way about God regarding Jesus’ death. Perhaps because God was always portrayed “up there”, seated in the heavens on a majestic throne by artists all throughout history that I naturally assumed He was only observing from Heaven while His Son was doing all the work down here. Scripture says otherwise. Most incredible is Romans 5:10 and II Corinthians 5:19 where God didn’t even count our sins against us while we were an enemy of Him! This is profound.
Secondly, the Holy Spirit imparts life. Yet He chose to continue to allow life in those who were mocking, blaspheming, beating, scourging, hating, spitting and crucifying the innocent Son of the Living God. Incredible. And all the while the Father is pleading with everyone through His Son on the cross…..come to Me for forgiveness and salvation! (Isaiah 1:18) Can we fully grasp the enormity of that kind of extravagant lavish love of God? (I John 3:1) And how does an artist even begin to paint something like that?
Hmm…crazy-kinda–radical-incredible love… no wonder the Apostle Paul was so excited wanting people to boast “how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!”
“6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” Romans 5:6-11
“8 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” II Corinthians 5:18-20
What a wonderful God we have not only offering us forgiveness of sins, eternal life but the awesome ministry of being ambassadors for Him in bringing the message of reconciliation to others! May you be encouraged and blessed to know how much you are loved of God this Lenten season.
“Cassia and cinnamon.” Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Revised and Expanded. 2011.