March - 15 - Friday

Death spread to all men, because all sinned.
Our Saviour Jesus Christ ... has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

Romans 5:12; 2 Timothy 1:10

 

In the church of Santa Maria Novella in Florence there is a famous fresco by the artist Masaccio. It was produced in the years 1425 - 1428 and is considered a pioneering work in the history of art, because for the first time the laws of perspective were applied correctly.

The upper part of the fresco depicts the crucified Christ, the lower part a skeleton on a sarcophagus. Above the skeleton stands an old proverb in an adapted form: “I was what you are; you will be what I am.” The unrelenting truth of the presentation and the epigram should make everyone think. Any observer who knows his Bible must immediately recall: “It is appointed for men to die once; after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9, 27).

But then visitors who believe will look up at the crucified Christ and possibly remember a word from the same book of the Bible: that the Son of God has destroyed the devil, who had the power of death, and released those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage (cf. Hebrews 2, 14.15).

Looking down at the skeleton reveals a reality that we must not overlook or forget. Not proceeding from there will lead to frustration and despair. We must therefore look upward to

Christ and the cross. There He overcame both death and the devil. And to all who put their faith in Him He grants their own part in His victory and His life.