It is Good Friday. The trials are finished, an insurrectionist/murderer is released, and Jesus is sentenced to death. He carries the cross, helped along by Simon of Cyrene, and when he finally reaches Golgotha, he is crucified.
Maybe He Qi was inspired by the Gospel of John (19:25-27) to depict the crucifixion this way. Mary the mother of Jesus and her sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene are standing near the cross. The beloved disciple is also nearby. Jesus speaks to them and makes sure that his mother will be taken care of.
Maybe He Qi wanted to symbolize what the crucifixion accomplished, perhaps the fulfillment of Luke 4:18-19 / Isaiah 61:1-2: good news to the poor, comfort for the brokenhearted, freedom for captives, and forgiveness for sinners.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor, He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come. – Luke 4:18-19
Maybe He Qi depicts what it is like when our deepest expectations are disappointed: deep sadness, profound disbelief, unspeakable anger, wordless sighs. Sometimes we are not ready to let go. Sometimes we can only look away, hoping for another way. Sometimes our anger can only be expressed with the word, “Crucify!” Sometimes there are just no words. Death is like that. Loss of a dream is like that. It breaks our hearts, and nothing will ever be the same again.
Maundy Thursday post here: “Mountain after Mountain”