Faith vs Finance

A Surprising Link Between Nicodemus and Michelangelo by Julian Archer

NicolangeloIn the north-east corner of Florence’s stunning Piazza del Duomo, just a few doors along from what is arguably the most decadent Lindt chocolate shop in the world, is the marble-encrusted OPA Museum. The collection includes a lesser-known sculpture by Michelangelo, the revered Italian artist, sculptor and engineer who also painted the famous hands of God and Adam (minus the suit, watch and cash!) on the ceiling of the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel.

Michelangelo’s Florentine Pieta is not one of his most famous sculptures but for some admirers it holds a most profound meaning.

Michelangelo started carving the life-size image of Nicodemus and the two Marys removing Christ’s body from the cross late in lifeā€”but he never completed it.

For Michelangelo it was a deeply personal work as it was to be the centrepiece for his own tomb in Rome. He saw in Nicodemus a man who had lived an upright and respectable life but who, in his deepest heart, where no one else ever accessed, knew that something was still missing.

On meeting Jesus in person, Nicodemus found what he was searching for. By the time of Christ’s crucifixion he was a dedicated follower who used some of his wealth to purchase the embalming spices for Christ’s burial, and the rest of his wealth on expanding the work of the early church.

Like Nicodemus, Michelangelo was converted to Christianity late in life and we can see from various self-portraits that the sculpted face of Nicodemus is actually that of Michelangelo himself. It was as if the sculptor wanted to tell everyone who passed by his tomb that the most important event of his already much-celebrated life was actually when he realized the debt he owed to Jesus his Saviour and, like Nicodemus, he wanted to do all he could to return that love.

The Florentine Pieta’s story speaks to the heart of every man and woman who has drawn nearer to the Saviour late in life and has finally decided to give all they have and all they are to Him.