So Jesus’ wealthy friends did prove useful in the end. All four narratives seem to agree on this. Joseph, after all—the one from Arimathea, not his Dad— Joseph pulled strings with Pilate. Did he have to call in a few favors earned in questionable ways so he could claim possession of the corpse? Old Nicodemus too, Jesus’ night-shift friend from the Sanhedrin, Nicodemus makes his own fleeting reprise, carting along a ton—almost—of fragrant spices, nard and myrrh (again!), for preservation purposes. Although where he got such pricey stuff, late on a holiday Friday afternoon, is never quite explained. And that convenient, fresh-hewn, garden tomb; even back in the day, sepulchres such as those did not come ten-a-penny! Add in all the hired help they must have needed to get stuff from here to there and, of course, to roll and seal that massive rock . . . Whole thing makes you wonder—doesn’t it?— wonder if that narrow needle’s eye got prized wide open— camel-size, at least—to accommodate these late allies.
My head clangs, my skin congeals when I imagine your final terrain: the moldering gloom of the cave, giant stone corking the mouth to seal your body in— you bid me to imitate you, even in this? Until you rise, Love, I am useless. Stretching in a long rectangle of wall-shade, I pretend my hand crumbles dank sepulchral dirt. Listen. In the corner, one cricket abides. Soft-shelled and tooth-white, he chirrs his dwarfed wings, persistent song his answer to the absence of light.
In the foreground of Eugène Delacroix’s classic The Entombment of Christ is a poignant image of the disciple John sitting, bent forward, contemplating the crown of thorns. By painting John and the crown alone, Ebenezer Sunder Singh shines a spotlight on this pregnant moment, offering a chance to ponder the wisdom of God which seems like folly to human beings. “The image of the thorn crown is a recurring phenomenon in my works over many years,” says the artist. “I use it as a compulsive pictorial symbol, and at the same time I revere it as the symbol of pain, shame and hope. I think John in Delacroix’s painting knows this secret, so he is contemplating this symbol of recreation and regeneration.” Singh’s work is shown frequently in galleries in the U.S. and India.