The above image is from Revealed: A Storybook Bible for Grown-Ups by Ned Bustard. The image itself is called “The Crucifixion” as was created by Eric Gill.
John 19:23-30 [ESV]
When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture which says, “They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.” So the soldiers did these things, but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said ( to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
Dear God, I spent some time with this image this morning before I left town for the day, and I’ve thought about it a lot since then. Now, its late in the evening and my wife has gone to bed. I have some time to really sit with it and consider what Eric Gill wanted to share.
- Jesus is obviously the focus of the image. He has the halo around him that Catholics and some others put around Saints and the Holy Family. He looks thin. He has his thorn of crowns. He is totally naked, but Gill gives him some modesty by covering him with someone’s outstretched hands. Could this be Jesus’s mother helping to cover her boy?
- It appears that three women have the halo as well. One has her face hidden and the other two are shown. Is this Gill showing us Mary, Jesus’ mother, Mary’s sister, and Mary Magdalene?
- There is one man in the picture. Is this John? He is standing near the three women, so I would say it is probably John, readying to take care of Jesus’s mother.
- Oh, there are two other men in the picture too. One is on the cross on the left and the other on the right. The one on the left is only shone by his face, but he has the Saint halo. There are five haloed people in this image, and he is one of them. The other man on the cross is shown not only with no halo, but his nakedness is shown as well. Gill allowed Jesus and the other dying man some modesty, but to the man who mocked Jesus Gill gave a complete humiliation.
- Gill included the writing at the top of Jesus’s cross, and he gives us the version of the cross that looks more like a capital “T” than a lowercase “t.”
Last night, I sat with the image of the last supper. Now, this image shows the culmination of what happened over the next 18 hours. It happened that fast. No due process. No jury of peers. Just humiliation and death.
I was talking with my dad this evening about how sometimes the plan we would lay out on paper is the wrong plan, and the plan that will accomplish your actual will looks terrible on paper. I would say that this whole thing with Jesus is a prime example of that.
Then there is the haloed man on the cross to Jesus’s right. While I was driving today, I heard a song I hadn’t heard in about 20 years. It’s called “Thief” and is by Third Day.
I am a thief, I am a murderer
Walking up this lonely hill
What have I done? No, I don’t remember
No one knows just how I feel
And I know that my time is coming soon
It’s been so long, oh, such a long time
Since lived with peace and rest
Now I am here, my destination
I guess things work for the best
And I know that my time is coming soon
Who is this man? This man beside me
They call the King of the Jews
They don’t believe that He’s the Messiah
But somehow, I know that it’s true
They laugh at Him in mockery
And they beat Him ’til He bleeds
And they nail Him to the rugged cross
They raise Him, yeah, they raise Him up next to me
My time has come and I’m slowly fading
I deserve what I receive
Jesus when You are in Your kingdom
Could You please, please remember me?
And He looks at me still holding on
The tears fall from His eyes
And He says I tell the truth
Today, you will be with Me in paradise
And I know that my time, yes my time is coming soon
And I know that my time, yes my time, is coming soon
And I know Paradise, Paradise is coming soon
Songwriters: Bradley B. C. Avery / David Carr / Johnny Mac Powell / Mark D. Lee / Samuel Tai Anderson
Father, in the end, so much happened in 18 hours. The world changed in 18 hours. All of human time and space changed in 18 hours. Mercy came to the world in those 18 hours. And the plan looked absolutely terrible on paper, but it’s exactly what we needed. We needed our Passover Lamb. I needed a Passover Lamb. I needed mercy. I needed grace. I needed freedom. And the sacrifice all came in these 18 hours. But at this point on that Friday night, the plan looked like it had all fallen apart. We just never know what you’re up to. They didn’t know it then, and I don’t know it now. But I trust you.
In Jesus’s name I pray,