The Master's Own Hand

Art historians used to believe that Leonardo da Vinci painted his “Virgin on the Rocks” with the help of his student Giampetrino (Source: Reuters). The 15th century painting was discovered and authenticated only a few years ago. It was a later version of the “Virgin on the Rocks”painting that is now displayed in Louvre, Paris. (If you watched Tom Hank’s “The Da Vinci Code” movie, you saw the painting already.) However, an 18-month restoration project by the conservation team at the Britain’s National Gallery revealed otherwise. In a press statement the team declared, “It now seems possible that Leonardo painted all he picture himself, leaving some parts just sketched or yet to be completely resolved, and others fully worked up.” (Ibid) A badly degraded coat of varnish applied in 1948 “had reduced the picture’s subtle shading, particularly in darker areas, and impacted its intended sense of space.” (Ibid) When the team subjected the painting under the latest infrared technology, they “discovered two distinct underdrawings beneath the surface of the painting… One was a completely different design from that eventually painted over the top of it, while the second is a drawing of the Virgin of the Rocks but with considerable changes.” (Ibid) It seems it was a work in progress that Da Vinci never got to finish.

In this 2005 file photo, a visitor looks at paintings in an Ancona, Italy museum, where a previously unknown work by Leonardo da Vinci goes on public display for the first time.
Giulio Napolitano/AFP/Getty Images/Newscom

According to Ephesians 2:10, For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (ESV) The word “workmanship” means “product,” “a work of art” or “a masterpiece.” We got the word “poem” from that Greek word. Yes, there are times when we look at the mirror that we think we are a Picasso abstract or, worse, a Mister Potato Head. But, seriously, God Himself is painting the picture of our lives. We are a work in progress that He will complete. We may not see His design beneath the surface. But, it is there. According to Philippians 1:6, “There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.” (The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language) So whatever challenges or crises we are facing right now, as the song goes, “When we don’t understand, when we can’t see His hand, trust His heart.” God knows what He is doing.

Brethren, we are God’s masterpiece.

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