Upside Down Turned Right Side Up

“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days, he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom he also created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high . . .” Hebrews 1:1-3

On October 18, 1961 the Museum of Modern Art opened an exhibition of the last works of the French impressionist painter, Henri Matisse. At the centerpiece of the exhibit was a work entitled, “Le Bateau” - The Sailboat.

It is brightly colored, painted cutout paper rendering of a sailboat and its reflection upon the water. Hundreds of thousands people passed through the museum, marveled at the precision and beauty of the Sailboat, and savored the experience of seeing firsthand the work of Matisse.

In December, near the close of the exhibition, a French-born stockbroker named Genevieve Habert came back for one last look at the “Le Bateau”. She had visited three times previously, and after sitting down to study this piece of art for some time, she approached the staff member overlooking the gallery. Habert tried point out to the overseer that the museum had mistakenly hung the picture upside down.

The curator was indignant and refused to listen to Habert’s reasoning. Not to be deterred, Habert wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Times to explain the situation. Once the head of the MOMA read the letter and inspected the painting for himself, on December 4, 1961 - 47 days after the exhibit was unveiled to the public, he entered the gallery, and re-hung Matisse’s work right-side up!

Could it be that today your view of Jesus is upside down? We often miss out on the intended beauty, meaning, and power of who Jesus is and what he has accomplished for us because we have upside down views of him. This passage from Hebrews helps us rehang properly two crucial truths about Jesus so that we can pay closer attention to him and receive the beauty, meaning, and power he so earnestly desires to give us:

  • Jesus is a speaking Savior: He is not silent! Far from being a distant, silent, and impersonal deity, whose attention we need to win so that he will communicate with us, God is speaking to us in a way that we can understand and live off of. Through creation (what he has made) and revelation (Christ’s words and works) God is speaking to us today! The real question is, “Are you listening?”

  • Jesus is a sitting Savior: He is not frantically busy attempting to grab you and save you. He is not pacing back and forth trying to figure out how to accomplish redemption. Hebrews 1:3 says that after he had made purification for sins, he sat down. He finished the work God sent him to do, and now he sits in glory, having done every last thing necessary to make us right with him!

If we can hang these two central, crucial truths about Jesus and what’s done, then we can recapture, or perhaps experience for the very first time, the intended beauty, meaning, and power of the masterpiece of salvation that Jesus offers to us today!

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