And Then…What Happened?

Yes.  He died, succumbing to all his wounds.  It didn’t take long.  By three in the afternoon, he was gone…with a distinct, loud cry. Some people didn’t understand what he had spoken at the end.  Sounds of thunder and a darkness were noticed across the countryside.  The earth shook.

They didn’t even have time to break his legs, as was the usual custom, to hasten death.  Into a  rock tomb his body was hurried before the sun could set, wrapped quickly, unwashed, grimy, still seeping blood, unprepared for proper burial rest.  A huge rock was quickly rolled across the tomb’s doorway and guards were put in place.  This was a strange business and the authorities did not want any trouble cropping up.

But real trouble was on the way.   In the darkness, before long, something happened to this man.  He had been dead.  A thorough punishment, a violent whipping and brutal piercing had accomplished the killing.  Did the Roman soldiers realize that he was beaten and whipped for their sakes!  That he had nailed down sin? Did the Jewish authorities, the Law Keepers, know that he had  brought about the completion of their Law?  No, they didn’t know it.  Not then.

When the WORK was done, all the powers of the God of the Universe, the God of All Heaven pressed back down into him and he was transformed.  He lived again, not just surviving, but totally renewed. The yoke was thrown off of him… first one of all.  The yoke of death.   It was RESURRECTION.  The first fruit of the Newness of Life.  He was ushered out of the darkness by angels too bright to look on.

He was seen by many.  His friends, his followers, hundreds of people saw him over a period of days.  He had fresh new life.  An incorruptible body.  Heavenly powers.  But his piercings remained for all to see, to examine. It could not be explained.

This was real trouble for the world.  The entire world, not just his city, not just for Rome, but all.  He had accomplished a change in the world which could not be denied, could not be ignored, could not be destroyed.  He lived again.  He gives us that same life.  He lives today.

He is the Lord of Life.

“Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.”

Isaiah Chapter 53 NIV version of the Bible


Painting at top by Caravaggio~ 16th Century
Christ portrait by Il Cuercino~16th Century

An Entirely New Environment

An Entirely New Environment     Oil on Canvas 24″X24″

One morning I woke up with this hazy design in my head.  I thought it was a possible painting.  I did nothing about it.  The next morning, there it was again upon waking.  Hazy, but I loved the colors and the filmy white.  Still no action from me.  The third morning, when this image showed up, I got the message that I needed to follow through and try this out on canvas.

I began with thinly painted acrylics on the square canvas.  I always love the square shape.  I worked it a bit.  The words came to me, “An Entirely New Environment.”  I thought it meant a new environment for our nation.  This was in the early fall of 2016, before the national election.   The feeling I had was that new materials and new actions would be pulled over an “empty bed of darkness” which was the area to the left.   The clouds of action, gifts, new ideas and life would be pulled over and cover the darkness, from right to left.   I later realized this was to be as a result of the Presidential election.   It looked like a cloud containing so many new things.  And it was active, swirling, moving, doing… a colorful mix!

I left this to sit and brew for some time.  Eventually, I moved to oil paints as I wanted a richer surface.  I sealed the painting with a cold-wax polish made from bee’s wax, giving a consistent satin finish to the entire surface.  The final product is rather more definite in the shapes than the first beginning:  Fire from above, lavender shapes of prudence and justice.  A pod-like struggle with the darkness in the center.  A few small thin cuts of blood red.  Patches of new growth in green. The salmon pink could be the presence of new “flesh” working with energy on old problems.

The white cloudy base is the under-girding inspiration from heaven above.

Do you see it?


Horses Among the Myrtle Trees

The First Vision of Zechariah

The Prophet Zechariah told of a number of visions which were given to him during the time of Israel’s return from exile in foreign lands.  Zechariah’s role was to encourage, strengthen and stimulate the downtrodden Jews who were trying to start over in their land of inheritance with words straight from God.

The image above is a miniature painted by an unknown artist around 1300 A.D.  on the isle of Sicily.  It is now the property of the Getty Center in Los Angeles, California.  The painting was done in tempera and gold on parchment and is a tiny illustration, only a few inches in size, taken from a copy of the Old Testament book of Zechariah.

This subject has rarely been depicted in art.  I don’t know why, as it is one of the most striking and eerie descriptions in the Bible.   Zechariah looks outside in the night and sees someone on a horse among the shadows of myrtle trees.  (The trees in this illustration seem pitifully small.)  There are various colored horses, red, chestnut and white.  An authoritative angelic voice tells him that these horses are ridden by angels as part of God’s angelic army.  They range throughout the earth “checking things.”  They report their findings to the angel in the myrtle grove.   “We have looked over the whole earth and all is well.  Everything is under control.”

All is well?  This is an astounding statement in the midst of a land and time of strife and turmoil.  It makes me wonder if these eternal angelic beings are still patrolling the area, still checking things. Would they also find that “all is well” today? Maybe so from God’s Almighty perspective.  Maybe, though we see a time of confusion, danger and strife, the Lord of All sees that all is well and all will be well.

In any case, I love this Biblical image.  It gives me a bit of a shiver.  I wonder about angels on horseback, and a many-colored troupe of horses.  I see them stamping and pawing among the shadowy trees in the night.  The stars are above to guide, the wind is  softly blowing.  The night is theirs to explore and all is open to their view.  I am going to have to get up and out in the night here at my house, to see if they swirl by with their snorting breath and strong legs, carrying an angelic host.

Quotations from The Message version of the Bible.