Merchant what merchant ?
I have purposely kept from going to museums and galleries this week as I did not want too much on my mind, (small mind) to many images to blur the story and experience I have had.
But here below is the most striking painting I have seen his week because it ties in with a sermon I preached on The Merchant and Pearl. Part of what struck me about the Merchant and the kingdom was that he must have been well worked out, organised, had a plan, made a sacrifice. This was not the kingdom of hap hazard and maybe. This is the kingdom of let's make a plan (Paul Middelton).
So this is how I see this painting.
We have people working together possibly Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus, Mary a servant? They have planed for this, talked to each other committed to something in the Kingdom. They are organised, rope, clothes a bowl perhaps to wipe the face of Christ and maybe for the wounds, there is compassion in this plan.
There is sacrifice in this painting, time given to the dead man, sacrifice of time even if there is no hope. After all he is dead this is the kingdom of dignity NOT resurrection. Someone has paid the cost written the cheque, this is not an abstract commitment at a meeting saying yes but not following through. The tomb, the cave, the grave has been secured.
The issue of working together has been a theme in Rome for me with Augustin, Ignatius, Paul. Working together with Archbishop David and the Pope. There is still so much to learn. This painting asks me not what is my role in the kingdom, but who do I Work with in the kingdom?