The Flemish artist Pieter Bruegel’s 1564 painting De Kruisdraging has impressed me since I first saw it in Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum, where it’s labeled, as I recall, Die Kreuztragung Christi or, roughly, “Christ Carrying the Cross.”
The cross is visible in the painting being carried horizontally, just above the man on the white horse.
You’ll be able to see it more clearly if you go to this site, where, if you put your cursor on the image itself, a button will appear in the lower right hand corner that will enable you to enlarge the image.
What impresses me is how small Christ and the cross are, how seemingly insignificant a detail they represent in the painting.
True, Mary and John and two other women are shown in the foreground, the three women weeping and John attempting to comfort Christ’s mother.
But, on the whole, bustling life goes on indifferently right around the Savior as he struggles toward Golgotha. Most aren’t paying the slightest attention. A world-historical, even cosmic, event is occurring. The salvation of every person who has ever lived or ever will live centers on what Jesus is doing in the painting, and virtually nobody notices.
Even we can scarcely see it.
Today is Good Friday. Do we even remember?