On the left the women gather with the Mother of God who stands with Her Son is His final agony. On the right the men gather with St. John and the Centurion who confessed the Lord at His death. Legend has it he was healed of a disease at that moment. On The left of the Cross a soldier holds the spear that has pierced the side of the Lord, a wound from which flowed out blood and water, symbols of the Sacraments that unite Christians to Christ in His Body the Church. Through the wound in His side we gain entry to the very Heart of God made man, indeed, we enter into communion with the Triune God.
Beneath the Cross Christ's garments are being divided up while on either side the dead rise from their tombs. According to one tradition Christ died over the very site where our first parents were laid and so there is always a cave depicted with the bones of mankind's first parents within. We are doomed to death but not to darkness. We cannot hold on to this world but that does not mean we have to forfeit the next. His death has opened wide the gates of heaven and He holds them open with His outstretched arms. Christ appeals to the Father for mercy for us. It is the voice of the Son that He hears and it is the self-emptying love of the Son that is offered to the Father on our behalf. This is what makes the Cross salvific. Human blood is shed but it is God who sheds it. God sheds His own blood but with Love and Obedience. His self-emptying on the Cross offers to the Father an infinitely valuable apology for the disobedience, ingratitude and selfishness of the human race. On the Cross Christ re-establishes our walk with God that was interrupted in the Garden of Eden by our first parents' sin. More than this He makes it possible, He provides both the will and the action, for us to enter into the very Heart of the Trinity and sit upon the Throne of God with Him. The Cross is not the end His enemies intended but the beginning of something totally and wonderfully new.