As we begin Holy Week, I want to share these two drawings I did as a part of PCC’s Stations of the Cross project — and how creating these helped me connect with Jesus’s last moments before His death. When Beth asked me and some others if we’d be willing to contribute to the project, she described it as a “spiritual exercise.” We’d get a prompt from one of the Stations of the Cross and create something based on that prompt. The words “Here I am,” written so many times in the Bible, came to life as I said, “Yes.” I didn’t know what I’d be drawing. I don’t even have that much experience drawing people.
But I decided to have faith.
If God could give Moses the tools he needed to lead people out of Egypt despite Moses’s self doubt, then surely He could give me the tools I needed to draw something that needed to be completed in four days.
Before I started drawing, I needed to do two things:
- Prepare my heart and
- Study my subject matter.
I made a music playlist. That’s one of the ways I connect with God. I googled different songs that related to the Stations of the Cross and Jesus’s crucifixion. I read about the Stations of the Cross. I looked at countless images of how other people drew Jesus in His final moments before death. I watched the movie The Passion of the Christ. I read about the moments leading up to Jesus’s death in the Bible.
After receiving a choice of two prompts, I said I would do them both: Jesus Falls the First Time and Jesus Meets His Mother. I prayed for God to give me what I needed to help bring people closer to Him through whatever I created as a part of the church’s vision.
I thought about my prompts. I can’t draw something without seeing it in my mind first. So, I spent a good deal of time imagining different scenarios. I imagined what it was like for Jesus and what it was like to see from the crowd. It went like this: What would it be like to carry a cross? How would I even carry a cross? Where would my hands go? Maybe I’d try carrying it on my side, under one arm and supported by the other, with the rest dragging behind me. That’d only last for so long before my muscles got tired. Then I’d probably put it on my back and try to balance the weight of it. On a good day, under the best circumstances, I’d get tired doing that for a shorter time than I’d like to admit. I think of the times I’ve complained to myself silently while carrying groceries, how my hands hurt from trying to carry a car full of items into the house in one trip. Or how about two bags of potatoes? How long could I carry that before feeling like I needed to sit down for a minute?
Jesus couldn’t sit down for a minute and rest. He had people throwing things at Him, beating and whipping Him. Add a crown of thorns cutting into the skin of Jesus’s forehead. At first, the pain would probably be sharp and then turn into an ongoing nagging, stinging type of pain, especially when sweating more. I bet Jesus was thirsty. I think back to how I felt while pacing my water intake during training runs for a half marathon in the heat of August. It’s completely trivial compared to the dry mouth that Jesus probably had while carrying the cross. His legs gave out and he fell for the first time. Maybe His foot caught a rock and he tripped, because His feet were dragging under the weight of the cross? I know I’m more prone to tripping on things when I’m tired. Or maybe there was nothing in His path and he fell the first time because the cross was THAT heavy, that his legs just gave out. What would that look like? I think my knees would hit the ground first. Maybe I should stand up and try falling while carrying something, to see how it happens…I still can’t imagine what a hand looks like hanging on to a cross while falling. I ask my father to grab a plastic bin at a certain angle and I take a picture of it.
What would I be thinking when carrying the cross?
Would I be thinking about how my friends turned their backs on me and how bad that feels, even though I knew it was coming? I know I’d be thinking about my family. Jesus had a family. Jesus had a mother, Mary. Wait, I’m a mother. No, I don’t want to think about that. I force myself to think about that. How would I feel, seeing my son dragging a cross to the site of his own death? With a crowd spitting on him, cursing at him? I think of how I felt when my son came home from elementary school one day and said another kid was mean to him, and how much I wanted to protect him. I think about how many times I’ve told him to be careful while outside playing. As a mother, I don’t want him to get hurt physically or emotionally. I put myself in Mary’s shoes.
I can’t imagine what Mary felt. Or what Jesus felt.
I imagine Jesus looking up and seeing His mother, through the blood and sweat dripping down His face. I imagine the desperation and pain on both of their faces. What was Jesus thinking? Is this the last time I’ll see my Mom? There’s so much I want to say to her, but if I acknowledge her as my mother, will they kill her, too? I reach out, speechless. What was going through Mary’s mind? Is this the last time I’m seeing my Son alive? I want to run to Him. I want to throw my arms around Him and save Him. I want them to KILL ME INSTEAD OF HIM. I start praying for that to happen instead.
These were the thoughts that went into my drawings. Since taking the time to reflect on the weight of these moments, I’ve caught myself thinking of them every time I’m about to complain about something in my life. I think about Jesus predicting His death in Luke 9:23 when He said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” I think of THE cross…the cross Jesus carried and died on. For me. And for you. I’ve developed a new perspective through this exercise. I hope that through sharing this, maybe you, too, might be inspired to set aside a few minutes to connect with Jesus in His last moments before His death.