Painting Yourself Into The Scene
Many years ago, I saw a painting by Rembrandt that has been cemented in my imagination. The painting is entitled The Raising of the Cross, and it was completed by Rembrandt in 1633. The interesting thing about the painting is that the artist painted himself into it, not once but twice.
If you look closely, you will see Rembrandt's self portrait in a beret-wearing workman at the foot of the Cross (which Jesus is nailed to), working with soldiers to lift it. You will also see his face in the figure of a foreman of sorts wearing a turban, directing the entire scene.
Rembrandt's imagery forces us to admit that unless we are willing to place ourselves at the scene of Christ's death, we'll never be able to fully imagine ourselves standing in awe outside the Empty Tomb.
In other words, if we are to live in to the hope of the Resurrection on the other side of Crucifixion, we need to confront the truth about who we are, and where we find ourselves at the foot of the Cross.
Morton T. Kelsey writes: "The destructiveness within us can seldom be transformed until we squarely face it in our selves."
As I take these final steps toward Good Friday, I find myself grieving over the ways I have driven the nails into Christ's hands through the ways I've allowed the darkness to seep into my heart and blacken it with apathy, greed, pride, anger and self-centeredness.
But, the beauty of the Cross is that it has become a symbol of triumph over the worst the world has to offer by way of violence, misuse of power, injustice, hatred and malice. This symbol that once inspired fear and terror, now invokes hope and unfettered freedom.
Jesus himself spoke into this very thing when he shared with his followers: "Now is the judgement of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself." - John 12:31-32
May you be drawn to the Cross of Christ and to the Savior who took on sin and death upon it in order for us to live without fear of what may come--tomorrow or on the other side of eternity. May this sure and certain knowledge fill you with hope and set you free.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.