Back in the beginning of the 16th century, one of the world’s most famous artists was commissioned to create one of the most memorable pieces of art in human history. He began this project at 26 years of age, and it took him just about three years. The entire time he sculpted his masterpiece, he did it in secrecy.
Then, it came: the day on which he would reveal his masterpiece. It’s intended location was roughly 260 feet in the air in the Cathedral of Florence.
When he presented his piece of art, it stood 17 feet tall and was absolutely breathtaking.
So breathtaking, in fact, that the board of the Cathedral decided it needed a different, more public location. They convened a large committee with various people including legendary artist Leonardo da Vinci. They eventually decided to place the sculpture in the “political heart of Florence, Piazza della Signoria.”
To this day, it is the most famous sculpture in human history.
We’re talking, of course, about Michelangelo’s David.
It’s tough to fathom how human hands could sculpt something like David, but sure enough, they were the hands of the young Michelangelo.
David was a masterpiece to Michelangelo.
Imagine how it must’ve felt to reveal this statue knowing its brilliance and then to be told that it was so amazing it needed to be front and center somewhere. Michelangelo must have been proud of his statue. It was, most certainly, his masterpiece.
Surely people wouldn’t speak with Michelangelo without mentioning David.
It could be argued that Michelangelo pointed to David as one of his prized creations.
Roughly 1,500 years before this masterpiece, the Apostle Paul, in a letter to the church in Ephesus, spoke of another masterpiece.
He wrote: 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).
The Greek word that Paul uses here is poiēma, and it literally translates to “workmanship,” or “that which has been made.” The only other place in the New Testament where we see the word poiēma is in Romans 1:20, where Paul writes, “For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.”
The phrase, “everything God made” is how the New Living Translation renders our word poiēma. In this context, the things that God has made are the things by which he communicates his invisible qualities. It’s his mode of communication.
When, in Ephesians 2:10, Paul uses the same word, he is telling us that we are the things which God uses to communicate something.
This is where we come to today’s Scripture. It’s just a few verses before we encounter the word poiēma.
6For 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. 7So 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.
First, we see that God raised us from the dead with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms. We don’t have the space to discuss what this means here, but what we do know is that even though we are not in heaven now, we experience some measure of heaven as Christians due to God raising us from our former state (dead) into life with Christ.
He made us – spiritually dead people – into living vibrant creatures.
But why? In verse 7, Paul tells us.
He created us – his masterpieces or workmanship – to point to us as examples of his mercy.
You. Me. All Christ-followers are what God points to as examples of his incredible mercy.
As we’ve discussed earlier this week, for us to receive mercy, we have to know we’ve done something wrong.
What most people don’t know about Michelangelo’s David sculpture, is that the single block of marble he used was previously unwanted.
40 years before Michelangelo began his work, two different artists were commissioned for projects using the same block of marble. Both abandoned their projects, and one of the artists did so because the marble was too difficult to work with.
Michelangelo stepped in and took something that had laid dormant – dead – and brought it to life. It is something that for over five centuries we have pointed to as a masterpiece.
God, in his infinite mercy, took us – spiritually dead – and made us alive with Christ so he could point to us as his masterpiece; so he could show everyone how merciful he is.
We cannot, as God’s masterpieces, sit dormant. He created us for a purpose. We are God’s poiēma. He made us to show everyone how merciful he is.
Even when we feel unwanted;
Even when we’ve been told we’re too difficult, too messy, or too much trouble;
We can know that we have a Heavenly Father who has generously lavished his mercy on us.
This realization is freedom.
How should the realization that we are God’s masterpiece affect the way in which you view yourself?
What can you do today – as God’s masterpiece – to be an example to those who don’t know Jesus?
Heavenly Father, thank you for your wonderful grace. You are more than good to me; you are more than kind to me. I want, as your masterpiece, to shine for the world to see. I want the world to know how merciful you are. Help me to be a blessing to those around me. Help me to tell others this same message. Amen.
This post was written by Andy Rectenwald. Andy is the Director of the LivingItOut Bible Study. He has a passion for bringing the Bible to life for people, for Christian Apologetics, and for the Cleveland Indians. He is married with two young children. You can follow him on twitter @andyrectenwald.
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