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Easter 2021 – Loss and Freedom.

2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

My first experience of loss was as a 6-year-old. Our neighbours owned a wonderful Airedale dog which spent as much time with me in our home as in his own. That Good Friday he ran out into the road and was killed by a car, it was the first time in my life I experienced that gut wrenching sense of loss. It might surprise you to know that every Good Friday I think about that formative moment of loss.

The painting below is Rembrandt’s The Raising of the Cross painted in 1633. The painting keeps just 3 things in light and focus, first there is the cross of Christ and then there is a well-dressed man struggling to raise the cross, this is Rembrandt himself. He wants us to know he was there, his actions brought Christ to the cross, he is saying he is the guilty one and in turn he is saying that is true for each of us. For Rembrandt the loss, the separation Christ endured on the cross is real and personal. 

Surprisingly the second man sat on a horse and bathed in light is also Rembrandt. He is looking straight at you as you view the painting, he is holding a small cross. He is in effect saying if you recognise yourself in this scene are you saddled up ready to go and share with the world the significance of Christ’s death at Calvary. 

I am glad Rembrandt painted this second character on the horse. For me it signifies a kind of freedom that comes from the forgiveness that is offered to each one of us. Each Easter we move from loss to freedom, from the cross of Christ to the Risen Christ who brings freedom even over death itself.

We perhaps all have a sense of loss when we think about these last 12months, loss of human contact, loss of learning, loss of support and now with the vaccination roll out our minds turn to the possibility of greater freedom. It is worth remembering that the real freedom of Easter, conveyed by the empty tomb, can only come from the loss he was willing to endure for you and me. The two go hand in hand just like the two characters in the painting.

This Easter may you know the suffering and risen Lord as your saviour and may that knowledge move you from loss to freedom.


First published on: 18th March 2021
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