Close - Up
Christ conquered death by handing over His life to the Father.
If death would have taken Christ's life, He would have lost.
One subject I can't stop talking about is the redemptive work of Christ. Not because I am excited about it, which I am,
but to express the unstoppable desire to move deeper into the vast purpose of the yet undiscovered secrets of this ultimate selfless act of Christ.
"The Redemptive Circle"
I am particularly interested in the "death" aspect of Christ's sacrificial act, and I tried to get a little closer to that subject by expressing it in a picture/painting which I am going to try to explain on this page.
I can't help but to observe that Jesus had a different idea of "death" than we have and even his contemporaries.
If we read the story about the death of His friend Lazarus, we get a vivid picture about the confusion concerning this subject.
We read in Joh 11:11-14 Jesus saying to his disciples:"Our friend Lazarus sleeps. But I go so that I may awaken him out of sleep".
Then His disciples said: "Lord, if he sleeps, he will get well."
"But Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He had spoken of taking rest in sleep".
Now, to my observation Jesus at that moment understood their perception of "death" and He simply stooped down to their level of understanding by answering them plainly:
"Lazarus is dead".
The big question I try to answer with this painting is, did Jesus undergo the same process of death by the same entity of death that took out His friend Lazarus and which we will face at some stage in our lives, or was there a difference?
To do the will of the Father the reason.
It all started and ends with people. The man God had created, was able to glorify his creator unreservedly.
Man's soul-purpose was to worship his God in everything he did. He was capable of doing that by his totally unblemished state. He was physically and spiritually completely in tune with his Creator.
That was about to change when man turned his back to his God, wanting to be his own god. From that moment on he lost the capability of sustained contact with the supreme God and he fell into the darkness of his own existence, and not only the first man, but all the generations to come.
At the moment of man's fall from grace, in His Grace, God the Creator promised a way out in Christ for the seemingly endless sea of lost, wasted people.
Two thousand years ago he placed His Son amongst this wasted generation in order to grow up amongst them,
become one of them except in sin, to start God's redemptive journey from there.
This journey would take Him to the cross, as He, being God incarnate and human-wise equal or superior to the pre-fall sinless Adam, was the person who wanted "to do the will of the Father" and pay the full price as the substitute for mankind by undergoing the punishment Himself.
It was God Himself who went through this terrible ordeal and by doing so "reconciled this world to Himself" as the apostle Paul tells us. It was HIS choice to do it this way, to do the will of the Father, not forced by me or my sin, but driven by obedience to the Father and limitless love for His creation!
The three black hours on the cross.
Jesus His thirty-three years on earth seemed to be destined to end on a cross.
Was this to be the end of a man totally in tune with His Father?
Would the "death" entity finally be enabled to take away His life as death had
done with all living souls since the beginning of mankind?
Would Jesus finally allow a dark power to take away His Holy life?
On the left hand side of the painting is a fractured cross visible against a black background.
Fractured in three because of the black three hours of darkness that Jesus had to endure.
It was not just the blackness, the physical pain, the thirst, the humiliation.
It was the absence of the Father.
He who had never been separated from the Father was now on His own in total darkness.
Heaven was closed and earth did not want Him anymore.
To Jesus this was the ultimate death-experience, separation from God, as it is portrayed in scripture.
This was the eternal separation the fallen human race was supposed to undergo.
Instead it was Him, the righteous one who took our place.
Because of what He did we never have to experience separation from God.
He took it once and for all.
This was why He sweated blood in a bout of unbelievably severe anxiety in the garden of Gethsemane.
After the three hours of darkness Jesus had fulfilled all that He was asked to do, and the connection with God the Father was restored
Just read this: Luk 23:44-46
"And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.
And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in the middle.
And crying with a loud voice, Jesus said,
Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit. And when He had said this, He breathed out the spirit".
He laid down His Life/Spirit... death never came close.
We now move to the very top of the painting.
Here is expressed the presence of God the Father by light.
Jesus entrusted His life to the Light of God the Father instead of having it taken away by the darkness of the death entity.
He was perfectly able and in title to do this by heavenly authority;
Joh 10:17,18 "Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I might take it again.
No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down from Myself. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it again. I have received this commandment from My Father".
Jesus achieved His victory over death on the cross and not as many saints believe on easter-morning.
His resurrection was the overwhelming visible proof of His victory over death on the cross.
The song: "death could not hold Him down for He has risen" which we might sing on Easter Sunday morning reflects the complete wrong idea.
The death entity was never involved and therefore never held Him down.
He placed His glorious and precious life into the equally glorious hands of God the Father.
During His time on the cross, Christ's life has never been endangered of being taken away by death.
Instead, He personally, in His own power, laid down His life.
That moment His earthly body became temporarily a lifeless corps. A corps that would not know decay, and be resurrected after three days.
Was this the end of His task? No, Jesus, now the Christ, continued His redemptive work out of sight,
in the dark catacombs of hades or hell as it is sometimes translated, where the spirits of the dead (sleeping) old-testament people were kept.
Here he applied in triumph and power His newly acquired rule over everything by confronting, disarming and humiliating death and hades.
He preached to (and released?) the (sleeping) spirits in prison. (hades)
This part of the painting represents death and hades with its inhabitants. The white dot in the lower region of the picture represents Christ preaching to the captive spirits.
Rev 1:18 ....
"And I have the keys of hell (hades) and of death".
Imagine....Christ approaching death in his personal kingdom hades.
Christ stretching out His hand to death and simply saying: "The keys".
Then death, realizing he has lost, turns as pale as a corps, and...
he hands over the keys.
.It becomes even more humiliating when Christ opens the door to the dark catacombs of hades or hell and start preaching to the entombed spirits of those who died under the darkness of the old world.
1Pe 3:19,20 "in which also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, to disobeying ones, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah,
while the ark was being prepared (in which a few, that is, eight souls were saved through water)"
Christ's redemptive work would not have been complete if He had not included those who had already died.
By including the dead He completed His mission to all mankind in His redemptive act.
Such was the power of His redemptive act, that according to:
Mat 27:51,52 "And, behold! The veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And the earth quaked, and the rocks were sheared,
and the tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep arose",
The lower part of the center picture shows the people pouring out of hades as a result of Christ's preaching. From now on, hades is not the destiny for those who are in Him, and whose lives have been taken away by death.
Forever Christ locked the door to the hades kingdom for those who accept Him, and created a new way, a new relationship with the Father, based on His finished work.
So, what about death today. We still have to die.
Yes, because we are physically still under the curse of death, death will come and take away our lives, but that is about all death can do. The taking away of life by death becomes the entrance to the Light. Death has no hold on us anymore.
Christ has locked the door to hades and provided us with the assurance that we are safe in Him, the New Testament ark of Christ.
Yes, we can already say with Paul: 1Co 15:55 "O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?"
This becomes total reality at the end of times, when as a last act death and hades will be destroyed forever:
Rev 20:14 "And death and hell were cast into the Lake of Fire. This is the second death".
He re-established unobstructed access to the Father.
His redemptive work not only mended the broken relationship between man and God, it also created a new future, a new hope, a new covenant, the covenant of Grace.
Grace from God's perspective means: "all has been done".
From man's perspective it means:" don't add anything, only accept".
That is hard to follow for the unregenerated man and therefore when he embraces the work and person of Christ, he receives a renewed human spirit and within his new spirit the Spirit of God.
Now man is part of the new covenant and able to walk by the given Spirit of God.
From now on man is part of the Kingdom of Christ, and recipient of all the Heavenly Kingdom promises.
Man's sins that he has done, doing, and going to do are forgiven, and again he is able to walk with his Creator and can approach with boldness the throne of God.
Man will walk again by the measure of the Kingdom and by the power of the given Spirit.
He will learn that every act he he does in his renewed situation is basic worship, acknowledging Him who changed him.
Worshipping the Christ who has set him free from sin and death.
Christ alone is worthy to receive all the glory. He is the true Son of God and.... alive!.
Rom 1:4 "And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead"
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