The Crucifixtion of Christ by Giotto di Bondone in the Scrovegni Chapel, c. 1305
(La Crocifissione di Cristo)
Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away.
And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha:
Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.
And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.
John.19 King James Version
Jesus had told them openly when asked,
“Are you the Messiah, the Son of the living God?”
“You have said so, he replies.
But I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming on the clouds of Heaven.”
(Cristo davanti a Caifa 1304)
Are you the King of the Jews? he replied,
“You say that I am a king.”
Now, as well you know, there was a tradition at the time of Passover for certain criminals to be released. A mocking crowd had followed Jesus from the house of Caiaphas - a crowd stirred by the priesthood in their disdain. This crowd now waited and watched beyond the walls of Herod’s House where Pilate resided over the festival. And they were a crowd totally unlike that which had welcomed Jesus to Jerusalem just a few days before - and they were baying for his conviction - and secretly amongst had been Peter – whose story we shall take up briefly here – for as they had waited for news near the house of Caiaphas, a girl had recognised him and come forth and said.
"This man also was with him."
But he denied it, saying,
“Woman, I do not know him.”
Then another recognised him & called her friends and said aloud –
"This is one of them.
He was with Jesus...,"
Matthew 26:69-75 NEW King James Version
Now, there was a criminal named Barabbas who was then brought forward and Pilate, having found no fault with Jesus cried out,
Who shall I give you today?,
“Whom do you want me to release to you?
Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?”
Mathew 27: 17 King James Version
And the crowd cried,
“What then shall I do with Jesus?” asked Pilate,
What evil hath he done?
Crucify him! Crucify him!
Matthew 27:23 King James Version
When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.
Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.
Mathew 27: 24 King James Version
And so it was. And Jesus was given over to be scourged & stripped of his clothes & driven onward to Calvary bearing his cross. A crown of twisted thorns was thrust upon his head, and all along the way he was mocked and jeered and spat at as a common criminal might be.
And the heavy cross was placed upon his shoulder and a mock purple cloak. And the people - fickle as they were - and so permeable to corruption cried out and laughed and spat as he staggered on.
(Andata al Calvario)
And when at last while the day was still young he came to the place where the story was to end, and he was mounted and nailed upon his cross - and it was lifted up midst two common robbers. And soldiers kept guard throughout - for he was to be an example - and they threw lots for his clothing.
Then at noontide - a great shadow fell suddenly over the earth and the Veil of the Temple was torn in two. And one of the centurions there beside him cried,
Truly this is the son of god!
And Jesus called out for the last time - in the words of the psalms.
My god! My god! Why hast thou forsaken me?
And calling so, he drew his last breath and died.
Joseph of Arimathea then went to Pilate to ask if he might take the body for burial and he agreed, and then Jesus was lifted down from his cross and placed into the arms of Mary the Mother and Mary Magdalene.
And all wept in their sorrow - even the angels in the skies above.
Lamento (Il Compianto di Cristo)
x x x
These meditations for Easter Week are based on the exquisite 14th century fresco cycle by Giotto di Bondone, from The Scrovegni Chapel, Padua (Italy), that so beautifully elucidate the story as it unfolds.