This morning, I woke up thinking about how Christ went to the cross because God’s justice had to be satisfied by the penalty for sin (previous post). This evening, I am pondering how I have become unified with Christ in his death in a mystical way. Caravaggio‘s painting of the Entombment of Christ (circa 1602) helps me visualize Paul’s explanation of this in the sixth chapter of Romans. In particular, “. . . if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection.” and “if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live witih Him.” Carrying these thoughts into the painting, I notice that I am standing in the grave, receiving Christ who died. We are coming together in death so that tomorrow we can go forward in life. “Because he lives, I can face tomorrow,” echoes the Gaither praise hymn. I like to ponder Caravaggio’s painting because I keep noticing new things. The arms and hands seem to tell a story in themselves. Mary Cleophas lifts her hands upward to heaven while Christ’s hand points downward to the grave. Interestingly, the grave is usually thought of as the dead end of life. But Christ knocked the other end out of it and made it a passageway to heaven. The end of one form of life becomes the beginning of another form. So much for the philosophy “when you die, that’s it.” The hands seem to form a counter-clockwise arc encircling the top and left sides of the ensemble ending with the hand of Christ himself. When I think of “the hand of God” I think of creation, guidance, punishment, and even control (He’s got the whole world in His hands). But here, His hand points to his next stop along the trip home to glory. At the same time, another hand feels the open wound in his side. Without knowing what will come next, these people cluster together in “the now” with a spirit of somber reverence, trusting that whatever comes next will be fine if it is to be with Him. In life, in death, in resurrection, and in glory, my desire is to be with Him.
I Died with Christ!