I’d like to share something little more somber than my usual. Today is Good Friday…the day we commemorate the death of Jesus on the cross. I have a few thoughts to share before the video.
According to the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 15, this is the account of the later portion of Good Friday afternoon:
33 At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). 35 When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.” 36 Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said.
37 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.
38 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”
40 Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome. 41 In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there.
42 It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached,43 Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. 44 Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. 45 When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph. 46 So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid.
Tradition (and common sense) tell us that Mary was there for all of the horror. She was documented as being there when Jesus asked John to care for Mary as his own mother. She surely would not have left his side as He hung on the cross. And would have been there to help Joseph of Arimathea take the body down.
Artists have been moved to capture this moment, this “Pietá” – Mary holding the dead body of Christ at the foot of the cross – for centuries. As have I, today.
My watercolor is based on sketches I made in front of Michaelangelo’s Pietá in St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. I stood in front of this sculpture….and wept. I cannot begin to fathom what Mary went through. Seeing her son this way…
I used to wonder why this is called “Good” Friday, when it went seemingly tragically wrong that one day. But without this day…there would be no Easter. That makes it Good in my book.