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Ron DiCianni: The Resurrection Mural, In His Own Words
By Ron DiCIanni
The 700 Club
Michelangelo painted The Creation of Adam for the Sistine Chapel. Rembrandt painted the story of The Prodigal Son. Every artist longs for the definitive subject to paint. The one that captures a moment in time, hoping that the viewer will put themselves there.
For me, it is Christ’s Resurrection. The one act in history that separates Christianity from every philosophy, every religion… we have a Savior. The fact that Christ walked out of the tomb is a historical and theological fact. Some may choose to ignore it, but none can deny it.
Two years ago, The Museum of Biblical Art in Dallas, Texas asked me if I would consider painting a mural on the theme of Christ’s Resurrection. While an unbelievably daunting task, I had the solace of knowing that God had promised He would hold my hand, whenever I painted, many years prior. Knowing that the God of the universe is with you is what caused David to confront Goliath, Elijah to stand alone against 400 crazy prophets, and is what sustained Jesus when faced with the Cross.
Taking my cue from Hebrews 12:1, I thought a great scene would be Christ emerging from the tomb, with many heroes of the faith waiting for Him. These are some of the “Christ-types” that gave a glimpse to what only Jesus would accomplish. Now they were able to see the One who fulfilled what they could only have dreamed of! What a moment that must have been!
A quick note on the characters that are included, from left to right we have Abraham, Isaiah, David, Moses,
Elijah, Noah, Easter, John the Baptist & Daniel.
Now, why did I include these? As I said earlier, each of these were Christ “types” - individuals whose lives and ministries were a foreshadowing of Christ throughout the Old Testament. As we mature in the faith, we see Christ throughout the Old Testament. From the giving of the law to Moses – which demonstrated man’s estrangement from God and need for a Savior – to John the Baptist who’s mission was to “make straight the way for the Lord”, each of the these Old Testament characters were expectantly waiting for the fulfillment of God’s promise of the Messiah. A promise fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
In terms of actually putting paint to canvas, I have to laugh when I think of how God loves to go against the grain of our comfort zone. Consider this: I paint on a scissor lift! It’s a machine that lifts you high in the air on a small, unsteady platform. For as long as I can remember though, I have been terrified of heights! Isn’t that just like God to make us face the very thing that proves He’s bigger and stronger than our fears? There is no question Who deserves the credit for this painting… only God!
One thing I was committed to at the outset was to do this at the highest level. When a car manufacturer releases their new luxury model, they spare no expense in treating it like royalty. Don’t we owe at least that effort to the things of God?
For The Resurrection Mural, every costume for each model was hand-made by a professional fashion designer. Every reference prop was professionally made, some by the same people that make props for Hollywood. The tomb was custom sculpted for me by Warner Brothers… even hand formed by the same people who had worked on the Indiana Jones movies! The photography was done in Southern California at the studio of a prominent photographer. Even the models themselves were some pretty unique people; I invited four of the top fine artists in the world to model for key figures – Thomas Blackshear, Chris Hopkins, Michael Dudash and Morgan Weistling. Why expend all this effort? As before, whatever we put our hand to ought to be the best for our King! To Him belong the best efforts, time and talent we possess. Nothing else should get better treatment than the greatest Message of all!
The result of all of this...? A 41 foot by 13 foot oil-on-canvas Fine Art mural of Christ emerging from the tomb. Although this was not my goal at the outset, to the best of my knowledge this is the largest contemporary depiction of the Resurrection in the world.
Now let me draw your attention to some elements in the mural that you may miss at first glance. Notice the rock beginning to crack under Christ’s feet due to the earthquake. Notice the “keys of death & hell” (Rev. 1:18) tied on Christ’s belt. Of all the figures, the three kneeling are David, Esther & Daniel… royalty bowing to the greatest of all Kings! In the right top background is Mt. Calvary, also known as “the place of the skull”. You can see the hint of a rainbow above as the same promise God gave after the flood. It still stands the test of time. But of course what matters most is Christ emerging from the tomb – victorious and alive!
And that fact brings us to a decision point. What is your response to the claims of Christ? If Jesus stepped out of the Tomb, then He is Who is claimed to be – Savior of the World and the Only way to God. Which forces a decision – either you embrace Christ’s sacrifice for you or you reject it. There is no middle ground. If tommarow, your boss calls you in his office and says “Good news! We’ve decided to promote you to the President of the company… will you accept?” and you run out and celebrate, buy a new house and tell your friends, there is a problem. Before that offer becomes your reality, you need to do something – you need to say “yes”, to accept the position. Right?
The same is true of Christ’s death and Resurrection. He purchased your forgiveness and atoned for your sins 2,000 years ago. The Bible tells us that His sacrifice is “sufficient” payment in God’s eyes for all our transgressions. But, there is an action required on your part – you have to accept that payment – by agreeing with the claims of Christ and accepting Him as Lord and Savior.
The truth is that regardless of your decision, Jesus Christ already is Lord and Savior. Whether you believe Jesus rose from the dead or you think it’s all a hoax – Jesus did rise from the dead. That is Truth. The only question is what your response will be? “Yes, Lord, I accept your forgiveness” or “No, I will not accept it”. There is no greater question, and remember, anything other than a “yes” – an “I’ll think about it” or a “maybe later” or an “I’m not sure” – is a “no”. Make your decision and then let it count for eternity.
The simple fact is this, the Bible tells us that our life is but a breath – a vapor – that is here for a moment and then vanishes. But the Bible also tells us that our choices & actions in that mere breath of existence will follow us for eternity. In the short time you have here on earth you decide where and how you’ll spend eternity. Choose wisely. Choose Christ.
I invite you to rejoice with me this Easter, not merely in the completion of this mural but in the Cross…the Empty Tomb… the One who conquered both, our Savior Jesus Christ!
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