Friday, April 02, 2010

Good Friday in Art

What is "good" about the most unjust act in the history of the world? The only Man who was entirely guiltless was put to death as a malefactor, in what sense can we say that this is "good"? It becomes good when we see Him in our stead, forsaken that we might never be left, and dying that we might live. The heart is that this is substitutionary, Christ died in our place. This substitutionary nature of the death of Christ seen in the following pieces of art by Michelangelo and Rembrandt.

(To the right is Michelangelo's "Pieta" this piece Michelangelo intended to go on his tomb)

Here we see a sculpture of Michelangelo's with Nicodemus and Mary holding the deceased body of Christ. What is unique about this? Notice that Nicodemus' face is more detailed than any other portion of the sculpture, it is believed that Michelangelo placed his likeness on Nicodemus. This illustrates the truth that it was out sins, in this case Michelangelo's that Christ died for. We personally are connected with the death of Christ.

(To the left is a close up of Michelangelo's "Pieta" sculpture so you are able to observe the detail Michelangelo put into the face of Nicodemus.)

Next, we see the famous Crucifixion painting by Rembrandt. Here again we see there is an oddity in the work of art centering on the death of Christ. Firstly, notice the individual raising the cross with a painter's Beret on. This of course is none other than Rembrandt, again announcing that it was for my sins that Christ was crucified.

Note secondly, that the lighting is solely on Christ and Rembrandt who is crucifying Christ. Rembrandt clearly wants to make the connection that the man in the painter's cap (himself) put Christ to death.

The message was clear in Rembrandt's mind (who was a reformation based artist), I put Christ to death with my sin, just as truly as the Roman soldier in time and space.

It is this simple truth in all of it's fullness that should break in upon us afresh each time we read the accounts of the death of Christ in scripture, namely, that he died in my place. It was my sin that held Him there.

I am the Judas consciously betraying Him when I sin, I am the Pilate who is more concerned with myself than my God, I am the crowd shouting for His death when I am swept up with the spirit of the age, and I am the Peter every time I am ashamed of the gospel. We must see ourselves this way, we must let him wash our feet or we have no part in Him.

"The whole life of a Christian should be nothing but praises and thanks to God; we should neither eat nor sleep, but eat to God and sleep to God and work to God and talk to God, do all to His glory and praise."

—Richard Sibbes


lost and found said...

I was thinking the same thing-what is so good about this day? Sunday is the good day but I had forgotten the veil was torn when he died not when he rose again. That is a good thing! Thanks for sharing Bob!

lost and found said...

Oh, I'm Lindsay BTW.

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