Original Artwork: SOLD, Acrylic on Canvas
This triptych commemorates the goodness and providence of God towards the Israelites in their desert wanderings. The triptych features three events in Israel’s testings: Bread From Heaven (Exodus 16), Water From The Rock (Exodus 17:1-7) and The Healing of The Waters (Exodus 15:22-27). This painting commemorates a time when God purified bitter drinking water so that the Israelites could drink it.
“Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea…For three days they traveled in the desert without finding water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. (That is why the place is called Marah [meaning “bitter”]. So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, ‘What are we to drink?’
“Then Moses cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.” (Exodus 15:22-25)
It is interesting to me that God told Moses to throw a piece of wood into the bitter water in order to make it sweet and drinkable. I have heard it preached that that piece of wood is symbolic of the cross. In this painting, the piece of wood resembles a cross shape.
The Father gave Jesus a bitter cup to drink in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46): He was to surrender his life unto death on the cross for the salvation of the world. Though Jesus was about to go through excruciating suffering and a violent death, I believe it was truly a joy for him to do the Father’s perfect will for he dearly loved his Father. “Then I said, ‘Here I am, I have come–it is written about me in the scroll. I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.’” (Psalm 40:7-8)
Embracing the Father and his perfect will made the bitter cup palatable for Jesus to drink. Jesus trusted that his Father was infinitely loving and infinitely wise and that his submission to drinking the bitter cup would also result in something exponentially sweeter for millions of others to drink: eternal life (John 4:13-14, 7:37-39).
Just like Jesus, the Lord also gives us a ‘bitter’ cup to drink: He asks us to die to ourselves. “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26).
As we take up our cross and daily die to ourselves we experience the sweet presence of Jesus abiding with us. There is no sweeter lifestyle than doing his perfect will.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)