"Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;
For ev'ry sin on Him was laid—
Here in the death of Christ I live.”
Koiné has just released a new single "In Christ Alone" and it features a cropped portion of this triptych painting from my portfolio. I made this for the ELS Lutheran Youth Association as a portable triptych to use at youth conventions. Pastor Don Moldstad called me and asked me to make something about the size of a suitcase that could be opened and set up on a table. It would lend a liturgical focus to a makeshift worship space such as a gymnasium conference room or auditorium.
After I finished the artwork Timothy Pietsch designed and built the folding frame.
This piece is loaded with symbolism so it seems wise to offer some interpretation.
It is in Christ alone that we have a solution to our greatest problems. Our greatest enemies are laid waste by our hero, our Savior, our Christ. This artwork addresses Jesus’ relationship with our sin.
Sin is symbolized in this piece by a visual reference to Adam and Eve's fall. Devoured apple cores integrated into Jesus' halo represent a multitude of sins we not only commit, but fully relish. There is more than one bite out of these sin-symbols and from God's perspective they represent a major problem for humanity.
However, there is another layer of symbolism in the apple cores. Satan, the accuser, tends to point to our sins and accost our conscience. Because of Jesus we neither ignore our sin nor fool ourselves into thinking we can handle it on our own. These sins are now pure white...made clean in Jesus’ holiness. They ride both on Jesus' back and are oriented along his halo. The contrast of human depravity and Jesus' holy sacrifice on our behalf is encapsulated in this symbolic arrangement.
The sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion reassure Christians of the great gift of salvation. Both sacraments were initiated and sanctioned by Jesus and are shown flowing from his side.
Paint color and handling also serve a purpose. Jesus is painted here with vertical brushstrokes to indicate His vertical connection between heaven and earth. Jesus, the God-Man, opens the door to immortality for us mortals. One of the thieves (on Jesus' left) is painted with horizontal marks indicating a preoccupation with earthly matters. The other thief (on Jesus' right) seemed to refuse to be painted. After several attempts I decided to leave it as a simple outline. I've come to understand this in contrast to the other thief's worldly disposition. This thief (notice he's at Jesus' right hand) confessed his faith and anticipation for heaven. His concerns were not so worldly.
The gold leaf denotes a spectacular event worthy of our full attention and praise. The green outline is a symbol of the new life resulting for us as a result of Jesus' work.
The words, "Do You Know What I Have Done To You?" come from the upper room on Maunday Thursday after Jesus washed his disciples' feet. I used the New King James Version because it is commonly used in ELS services. These words serve as a shorthand reminder of both Jesus' complete substitution and perfect example for us. In his holy life of humiliation, sacrificial death, and triumphant resurrection we have assurance of salvation and a model for our own lives.
No pow'r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the pow'r of Christ I'll stand.
Learn more about the Koiné ministry, keep up with their news and support them at koinemusic.com