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The Truth as it is in Jesus: Painting by Elfred Lee, commissioned by Ministry

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Archives / 1995 / July/August

 

 

The Truth as it is in Jesus: Painting by Elfred Lee, commissioned by Ministry

Anonymous
By the staff of Ministry.

 

"For were you not told about him, were you not as Christians taught the truth as it is in Jesus?" (Eph. 4:21, REB).

Truth is not a theory. It's a Person Jesus Christ. Every doctrine has meaning and value only in the I context of Christ and Him crucified.

"The sacrifice of Christ as an atonement for sin is the great truth around which all other truths cluster. In order to be rightly understood and appreciated, every truth in the Word of God, from Genesis to Revelation, must be studied in the light that streams from the cross of Calvary. I present before you the great, grand monument of mercy and regeneration, salvation and redemption the Son of God uplifted on the cross. This is to be the foundation of every discourse given by our ministers" (Ellen G. White, Gospel Workers, p. 315).

Honoring this divine mandate, Ministry editors commissioned a well-known Adventist artist, Elfred Lee, to portray on canvas the truth as it is in Jesus. Lee, who teaches at the School of Art at Montemorelos University in Mexico, already has painted such masterpieces as the huge mural Christ of the Narrow Way, showcased by the Ellen G. White Estate at the General Conference headquarters.

Lee's oil painting far Ministry measures four by six feet. The style is surrealistic and impressionistic. You see, for example, both a transparency and a perspective that are physically impossible. Impossible just like salvation itself is impossible for us to attain of ourselves, or even fully comprehend.

With salvation being the central focus of Lee's painting, the cross is its dominant symbol. The Ten Commandments loom majestically in the background. The numbers reflect a Hebrew flavor rather than Roman numerals, since Romans did not yet exist during the time of Moses!

Represented in Lee's painting is each of seven major doctrines of Seventh-day Adventists: 1. Scripture, 2. Sanctuary, 3. Salvation through Christ, 4. Spiritual gifts, 5. Sabbath of Creation, 6. State of the dead, and the 7. Second Coming.

To grasp the artist's emphasis, begin at the base. There you see the Bible as the foundation of all doctrine. Surrounding the Scriptures is God's second book, nature. As you move up you see the sanctuary, God's visual teaching tool of salvation. On the mercy seat of the sanctuary, blood drops from Jesus have fallen. The shed blood of Calvary's Lamb shows how type has met antitype, providing complete atonement for the sin of the world.

The risen Lord is represented in glorified form, with the Ten Commandments in the background. Since the violation of the law necessitated the death of Christ, the cross is hewn out of the tables of stone, forming a tomb from which Jesus was resurrected. He ascends victorious and immortal in the robe of His perfect righteousness.

Surrounding Jesus at the top of the commandments are clouds shaped as a heart, representing Him as the heart of our salvation. The purple color of this heart symbolizes the medals that soldiers in some countries receive when wounded in action. Again you are pointed to Jesus, wounded in action as the captain of our salvation.

The artist invested many hours in painstaking research to ensure accuracy in his portrayals. Notice, for example, the location of nail prints. In Bible times the word we translate as "palm" extended into the forearm. Which part of this long "palm" bore the crucifying nails? According to both archaeological evidence and medical testimony, the nails were driven into the part we now call the wrist.

At the top of the painting light streams down from the Father and the dove, figure of the Holy Spirit, to the face of Jesus. This represents the Trinity. All three members of the Godhead are active in our salvation. Through the Holy Spirit come the various spiritual gifts, including the gift of prophecy.

Now, to scan human history, return to the bottom of the painting and look left. In the seven worlds you see the seven literal days of Creation, culminating in the Sabbath. The fourth commandment is illumined as the memorial of Creation.

Moving from left to right toward the end of earthly history, you see toppled tombstones and an empty grave representing the state of the dead and the resurrection. The golden trumpets symbolize Christ's second coming.

The optimal eye level for viewing this painting is the tip of the angels' wings. You attain this vantage point by kneeling at the foot of the cross a fitting perspective not only for admiring this work of art but also for appreciating the work of Christ as our salvation.

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