Throughout his terrible ordeal, Jesus was surrounded by soldiers and the hostile crowd around the cross. But now, when it is all over, Jesus is reclaimed by his friends, and the violence and noise of public crucifixion is replaced by their quiet tenderness as they bring his body down from the cross.
In the picture above, we see Joseph of Arimathea at the top, supporting the weight of Jesus’ body. It was Joseph – a rich man who had disagreed with the decision to put Jesus to death – who asked Pilate if he could bury the body of Jesus. To the left and right of Joseph are the women disciples of Jesus. Mary, the mother of Jesus, in dark robes and standing at his head, kisses his face tenderly, while Mary Magdalene, also in dark robes, kisses his hand.
Four of the figures are bending forward towards Jesus, expressing their brokenness and grief. Jesus is bent backwards, his body broken and helpless.
In this desolate scene, only two details give us any glimpse of hope to come. The first is Mary, the mother of Jesus, who stands upright, even though her head is bent. She has been painted this way to express her strong faith in God, despite her suffering. And the second detail is the ladder on the left-hand side, which points upwards out of the picture. Maybe the ladder is telling us that the way down from the cross can also be a way back upwards to life.
Spend a few moments in
thought and prayer while you’re
at your computer. Here’s how…
If it’s night-time, you might want
to dim or turn off the lights in your
room. Easter is a time when we
think about darkness and light, so if
you can, light a candle or night-light.
Read aloud these words from Psalm 31:
Father, I put my life in your hands.
In you, O Lord, I take refuge.
Let me never be put to shame.
In your justice, set me free.
Into your hands I commend my spirit.
It is you who will redeem me, Lord.
Consider the suffering of Jesus on the cross. How he suffered rejection, loneliness, physical pain, despair. Have you ever suffered in these ways? Think about the times when you have experienced rejection, loneliness, physical pain or despair, and in your imagination walk to the foot of the cross and offer them to Jesus.
Turn your thoughts to the people you know. Pray for one or two of them who are facing tough times.
Finish by praying aloud this prayer…
Lighten our darkness, Lord we pray;
And in your mercy defend us
From all perils and dangers of this night;
For the love of your only Son,
Our Saviour, Jesus Christ.
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Follow the three days of Easter with icons, meditations and a simple walk-through prayer exercise which you can do sitting at your computer.
From Good Friday to Easter Sunday… follow the three days of Easter by looking at three pictures from the Eastern Church. These pages also include a simple walk-through prayer exercise for each of the three days, which you can do at your computer.
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