During the season of Lent, our theme has been “Restoration,” as in when someone takes something that is old and broken-down – an old house, an old car, an old piece of furniture – and takes the time to restore it into something new. Similarly, we have said that is what Jesus did for us on the cross – taking the broken junk from each of our lives to the cross, where he restored us into something brand new.
The Apostle Paul wrote, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
When humanity was completely ruined by sin, Jesus took all of the worthless junk to the cross.
As Isaiah says, “By his wounds, we are healed.”
It takes someone with artistic vision and skill to do good restoration work, and today I am going to tell you about the greatest artist of all time. He is the one responsible for everything that exists. The Bible says that it took God seven days of artistic creativity to create the heavens and the Earth; the mountains and the valleys, the oceans and the streams, the stars and the planets, and all living things. God made a fantastically beautiful creation. But, the crowning achievement of God’s artistic project was humanity. If you have ever been moved looking at a mountain, or a sunset, or the ocean, you should take a look at yourself! You are God’s greatest work!
Genesis 1:26&27 says that when God created humans, he created us in his own image and likeness. That means that there is inherent beauty in each of us, because we were made to be a reflection of God.
To take that a step further, God also created a special place for us to live – with him – for all of eternity, called Eden. He created us by love, to be loved, and to love. He intended to provide everything we need – eternal joy, comfort, belonging, acceptance, purpose and peace – for eternity. In Eden, we would have perfect relationships with each other, with creation, with ourselves, and especially with God.
This was God’s intent for his creation. But something went terribly, terribly wrong.
Since God created the first humans, we have always been hell-bent on NOT being the creation God intended. Every generation has drifted further from away God. The world has become an increasingly broken and damaged place. We do not live in the creation God intended for us.
If you don’t believe me, just turn on the news any night.
Lisa Sharon Harper writes, “Humanity’s broken relationship with God is the cause of all other brokenness.”
The Message version of Ephesians 2 says, “ It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us.”
Listen to that again – “It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us.”
God didn’t. God didn’t just “do away” with us. God didn’t give up. If he had, that would mean that sin is greater than grace. If he did, that would mean our power to destroy is greater than his power to create and restore. If God intended creation – including us – to be a certain way, then you can be sure that God will have the final word. God always has the final word – on everything!
In Ephesians 2, in The Message, Paul continues, “Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.”
Just listen to those words!
- Immense in mercy,
- With incredible love,
- He embrace us.,
- He made us alive in Christ,
- He picked us up and set us down in the highest heaven in company with Jesus.
Here’s the image I want you to picture. Imagine all of your sin and brokenness is the piles of old, broken junk, we leave at the curb for the garbage men. It stinks. It’s worthless. It’s unrepairable – at least that’s what we think. It’s embarrassing to look at. But, before the garbage truck arrives, the Great Junk-Collector comes rolling down the street, gathering up all of our junk, seeing possibility and potential. He throws in the back of his truck, and hauls it all to the foot of the cross. That’s what Golgotha was – a great big garbage heap – metaphorically speaking. He left it there in the dark of Good Friday, and the darkness of Holy Saturday, but when the sun come up on Easter morning, on the third day, instead of garbage, there’s a new creation!
When God intends beauty, God will not be denied!
Makoto Fujimura writes, “Despite our fallen nature, God desires to reflect goodness, beauty, and truth in us. God desires to refract his perfect light via the broken, prismatic shards of our lives.” Makoto Fujimura
Listen to Ephesians 2 again, this time in the NLT version, “God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus… For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:4-10
“You are God’s Masterpiece!”
The NIV version says that we are God’s “handiwork.” The ESV version says that we are God’s “workmanship.” I like “masterpiece” the best!
Think about a masterpiece. Think of great works of visual art, like the works of Michelangelo. Think about great, classic literature, like the writings of Shakespeare. Think of great works of architecture – like the Taj Mahal, the Great Pyramids, the Great Wall of China. Think of great epic films like the Ten Commandments, or The Lord of the Rings, or the Star Wars saga. Think of classic works of music, like those sung by Bob Marley! (I’m a big Bob Marley fan!)
All masterpieces, by master artists! And, the Bible says that you are God’s masterpiece too!
Even when we, “were mired in that old stagnant life of sin… He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ.” And, we are, “his masterpiece.”
Peter Kreeft writes, “The block of marble is not the sculptor, and doesn’t see that he’s about to become a masterpiece… We’re the block of marble and God is the sculptor, and the chisel is…. everything.”
In preparation for today, I investigated the origin of the word “Masterpiece.” It turns out that it comes from the middle ages. Back then, when you wanted to learn a profession, you couldn’t go to a trade school or university. You attached yourself to master of that particular profession as his or her apprentice. Eventually, as your learned and mastered the skills necessary, you could present a sample of your best work to the local guild of masters. What you presented was called a “master” piece. It would be your best work, and would demonstrate that you had the knowledge, skills, and ability to be considered a master.
God is the original master artist. And, he has demonstrated his mastery in you. “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10)
I think that’s the message of Easter. No matter how broken your life has become, God has never given up on you. Jesus carried all of our junk to the cross, and “he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:6
Think about the verse …
When children bring us their artwork, we display it on the refrigerator, for everyone to see. For some reason, some people take pictures of great meals, and post them on Facebook, or Instagram. If we have valuable art in our homes, we put in a place of honor – on a mantle, a pedestal, or on the wall under a special light. We display our masterpieces. We show them off. We share them with others.
God does the same. Did you know that you are on display in heaven? “For we are God’s masterpiece… and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus… So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us.” Did you hear that? You are currently seated in heaven. God points you out as his masterpiece.
When the saints, and angels, and archangels, drop by for a visit, he shows you off. When people die, and go to heaven, and get their tour, the tour guides point to us as God’s personal collection of masterpieces. You are his masterpiece, on display beside his thrown for all to see!
Now you might be thinking…
- I don’t feel like a masterpiece,
- I don’t look like a masterpiece.
- I just came to church because it’s Easter.
- I’m only here because somebody made me come.
- If that pastor knew me, he wouldn’t say that I am a masterpiece.
I don’t know why you’re here today. I don’t know how you got here. And, frankly, I don’t care. I’m just glad you’re here. No matter who you are, what you’ve done, or what has been done to you; while you, YOU, were still stuck in sin, Christ died for you. Maybe some of you are still stuck in sin right now.
Please listen to me! When Jesus arose on Easter morning, he made it possible for you to rise with him. You might feel like junk – you might be junk – but you are God’s junk! He made you. And, he’s not done with you.
He made you. He made you in his own image. No matter what you have done to mess that up, God isn’t done with you yet. God sees your potential. He sees the work of art you can be.
Max Lucado writes, “God sees in you a masterpiece about to happen.”
While I was researching the word “masterpiece,” I discovered something else. There are numerous theories and philosophies about what is required for something to be considered a “masterpiece,” depending on the “expert” and depending upon whether it is art, or literature, or music. But, I noticed a common theme in my research. I kept finding the phrase, “you just know a masterpiece when you see it.”
I know you are a masterpiece, just by looking at you this Easter morning. I know you are a masterpiece, because God’s Word says so.