“Holocaust” Sieger Koeder
And about three o’clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’
Jesus Dies. Two very powerful yet overlooked words in our Lenten Journey. Not Jesus fainted; Jesus felt unwell; Jesus was badly injured. Jesus dies. He passes from life into the world of the dead. It is so tempting to skip this bit and go on to the Sunday morning where we can celebrate the new life that Christ brings.
But without those two words, none of this is possible.
Jesus spent his life and ministry secure in his relationship with God. They were one and were everything together. Yet at this crucial part of his journey, are we to believe Jesus doubts? Jesus cries out “why have you forsaken me”. Is this a genuine belief, or a quotation of prophecy (see Psalm 22)? This became a huge stumbling block for me when I was growing in my faith, and I’m not convinced I’m sure of the answer.
The Artist here focuses his image on Jesus. He forms the centre of the picture, showing his injuries and reaching up in question. The walls seem to be closing in on him, preventing his escape. The people trapped with him represent the title of this piece – Holocaust – as those who were trapped feeling abandoned in the gas chambers with no hope of escape. The Artist has experience of this, and it influences much of his work.
Do we ever feel so trapped? So absolutely desperate that we cannot find our way out? Feeling so truly abandoned that all we can do is cry out. Let’s not try to answer these questions with a neat explanation. Let us stay with the questions, wrestle with the emotion and truly experience the significance of Good Friday.
Lord God, so often I want a neat faith, tied up with comfortable answers to all my questions. Yet it is only when I stay and wrestle with my questions that I can grow. May I find the space to be uncomfortable, and the willingness to let go of what is safe, in order to understand what is real. Amen