Holy week in Chartres (5): Grief

The Descent from the Cross, detail from the Passion Window at Chartres Cathedral (1145-55)

As we consider the experience and ramifications of Jesus’s death on the cross, let us meditate on the descent of Jesus’s body from that cross.

Mary holding the hands of her murdered son.

On the experience of his mother, Mary…

John, in mourning

On the experience of his beloved disciple, John.

Joseph of Arimathea, a Member of the Jewish Council (The Sanhedrin) in Jerusalem

On the experience of Joseph of Arimathea, who offered his own tomb for Jesus’s burial.

Nicodemus removing a nail from the crucified Jesus’s foot

On the experience of Nicodemus, a Pharisee and member of the Jewish Council, who brought one hundred pounds of spices to prepare Jesus’s body for burial.

The Descent of Jesus’s Body from the Cross

As you contemplate this twelfth-century image of the first Holy Friday, put yourself in the place of each person you see. Feel what it must have been like to be her/him. Imagine the thoughts of each of the four grieving followers of Jesus. Rest with God in the shock, horror, uncertainty, and loss.

Scriptural Touchstones

Now there was a good and righteous man named Joseph, who, though a member of the council, had not agreed to their plan and action. He came from the Jewish town of Arimathea, and he was waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down, wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid it in a rock-hewn tomb where no one had ever been laid. It was the day of Preparation, and the sabbath was beginning. The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and they saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned, and prepared spices and ointments. Luke 23:50-56 NRSV

After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there. John 19:38-42 NRSV

Jesus on the Cross, 13th century Tabernacle St. Aignan used for the Holy Thursday Vigil in Chartres

Other Blogs in this Series:

Jill K H Geoffrion

Serving as a contemplative Christian minister and artist by compassionately and creatively inspiring others to seek a deeper relationship with God and a more meaningful life of service.

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