A Study in Red

As we continue in our search for new perspectives of the cross, I wanted to share this blog I originally posted last year. Fitting for this month as I meditated on the color red.

The Crucifixion, with the Virgin and Saint John the Evangelist Mourning, oil on panel, c. 1460, Rogier van der Weyden, (1399-1464), 71.05 x 73.43 in. Philadelphia Museum of Art, Image Source Google Art Project.

Gazing at the numerous paintings by Rogier van der Weyden some time ago, I was struck by this work in particular and how it is filled with a rich vocabulary of symbols. I was surprised by how very modern it seemed to me.

Weyden’s paintings are always filled with a myriad of details and so I encourage you to look closely and explore this painting further by going to Google Art Project to zoom in for a closer look.

But it is the red blanket hanging behind Jesus’ crucified body that is capturing my attention the most so I will linger and think about all the words that we associate with the color Red…Passion…Sacrifice…Blood…Love…

Pushing into my feelings about blood:

I must admit that I am a bit squeamish when it comes to blood. I have to look away when I am having my blood drawn at the doctor’s office. And when I cut myself in the kitchen I really am a terrible baby until I get the cut covered up with a bandage.  There is just something about blood that causes most of us to turn away.

But then I think: Why was it so necessary for Jesus to shed his blood for my sins?  Yes I know all the correct answers but really I don’t think I will ever fully understand the mystery of it all.

Since it is his gift to us and the source of our grace, maybe I should push all my negative thoughts about blood aside, or at least try.

Beginning again I think blood is – life giving. Our blood that runs within our veins, cleanses our body and brings important nutrients to our organs. Without it we fail to thrive…we die. Not only this but our blood carries the source of our ancestry… we say that we have “blood relatives” and that someone is our “blood brother.”

In this way, I think, as I drink the cup that Jesus is cleansing us and nourishing us with his blood and as he does this we receive more and more of his divine DNA so that we might have eternal life. And through us he is reborn over and over again.

Listen for all the red in the following excerpt from 1 Peter 1:18-23

For you know that is was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect… Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.

I pray you will find your passion for living this week so that you might sacrifice yourself for love of Christ as we all live and breathe and move to glorify God our Father.  As we continue in this month of hearts and flowers, keep thinking about our study in red.

If you would pray with me…

Dear Lord help us to be a light and a blessing today. Help us to live with joy and to bring hope to those you have given into our care. Protect us from evil and guard our hearts from despair. Open our eyes to see the things you would have us see. Help us to feel your presence and to know your love and may the riches of your story provide us with constant wonder. In Jesus name…

Peace be with you:)




4 Comments Add yours

  1. Ida Smith says:

    Thank you. . I enjoy your thoughtful insights, especially concerning communion and the idea of eternal life through “divine DNA”. Jennifer Rundlett posted: “Netherlander Rogier van der Weyden is one of the many artist I will be featuring in my new book “The Joyful Sound: reflections on the Life of Christ in Art and Music” coming soon. As I gazed at the numerous paintings by this artist from so long ago, I wa”


    1. Thanks for commenting. I always enjoy hearing your thoughts:)


  2. scriptordeus says:

    “…. love one another deeply from the heart” writes Peter. In light of your enlightening thoughts on blood, the heart is the great engine pumping blood through the body, a picture of Christ as the powerful center from which our love flows to others. Rogier van der Weyden’s painting is certainly worth contemplating for its symbolism and power. Thank you for sharing it.


  3. Yes! The center and the heart. I have been away from blogging for some months so glad to see and hear from you again. Thank you sister and blessings:)


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