"Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise."
Rembrandt, The Three Crosses (1653)
Rembrandt, the foremost artist of Holland’s 17th century “golden age,” was known as a master printmaker. In this etching (a type of print), Rembrandt used the visual impact of light and dark to tell the story of Jesus’ interactions with the two criminals. While Jesus is at the center, Rembrandt also draws our eye to the man on Jesus’ left, whose entire body is directed towards the heavens. The streams of light that illuminate Jesus cascade over this man, who recognized in his last moments that Jesus is Lord. The other criminal remains in darkness, a visual expression of his hardened heart. Rembrandt powerfully depicts this quiet moment of forgiveness and hope, occurring amidst the frenzied activity at the foot of the cross.
- Reflect on times in your life when you might have responded to Jesus like the man on one side who despised and mocked him. Also, reflect on times when you might have been like the man on the other side who put his faith in Jesus. What was different about you or your situation in those times? On which side of Jesus’ cross do you find yourself right now?
- Christ did not rescue himself or the ones crucified with him, instead he chose to suffer with them. How does Christ’s suffering shed light on your own? What are the feelings, questions, or objections that arise in you? Spend a few moments holding your questions in humble silence before God.
- What is an area of pain or difficulty in your life right now? In light of both Christ’s suffering and his promise of deliverance, are there specific ways God might be inviting you to believe or see things differently in that area?
Loving Father, hear my cry in the morning and my lament in the evening. And as I wait for your deliverance, may hope and peace sustain me in the day. Grant me perseverance and faith to believe in the one whom you have sent, the one who chose to suffer with us. In the name of Christ who was crucified for love. Amen.