Friday, March 21, 2008


The image here is a bit dark, but then it is Nikolai Ge's Painting 'The Harbingers of Resurrection' The picture is of Mary Magdalene coming from the empty tomb, face uplifted to the rising sun, having seen the risen Jesus. She is walking by the old walls of the city of Jerusalem, and in the right foreground there is a downcast Roman centurion walking in the opposite direction-- like two ships passing in the night one going forth into light, the other into darkness. I have loved this painting ever since I first saw it in Russia, and it has inspired the following poem. Happy Easter to one and all--- Christos Anesti.


The Cool of the tomb

The heat of the sun,

Returning to remedy

What was undone.

The spices in hand,

The ointment in jar

Daybreak excursion

That didn’t get far.

The guard was asleep

The stone rolled away

The body was gone,

What could they say?

Did someone steal in

Under cover of night

Purloin the body

Vanish from sight?

Was he moved by the gardener,

As he cleaned up the mess?

The women would wonder

In the midst of distress.

The angel attendants

Sat idly by,

‘Why are you weeping?’

Was their instant reply.

Cruel question or pointless

Why need they to ask?

‘They have stolen his body,

And I can’t do my task’

What kind of cruel villain

Disturbs the dead,

Was his death not enough

Was there no mortal dread?

Had all of Christ’s miracles

Led to this end,

To a grave and a tomb,

And the loss of a friend?

Could the great Physician

Not heal himself then

Not avert disaster

Not rise up again?

Jairus’ daughter

The Nain widow’s son,

The Beloved Disciple

But what of the One?

Who would come to his rescue,

Who would champion his cause,

Who would touch his cold body,

Who would unwrap the gauze?

No mortal dared enter

Was sacrilege done?

Who stole their poor Jesus,

God’s only Son?

Not empty tomb or angels,

Could assuage such deep grief

Or convince he was risen,

Or provide soul relief.

No vision of the Master,

No delusion too grand,

Could overcome disaster,

Could meet their demand.

‘They would see Jesus,’

He must call them by name,

No similar stranger

Their hopes could reclaim.

But then in an instant,

‘Miriam’ and she ran…

And suddenly she was clinging

To the risen Son of Man.

‘Go tell the disciples,

Go tell them it’s so

God’s yes to life,

Is louder than death’s no!’

So Miriam went proclaiming

So says the script

The males maligned the preacher

Women’s ‘fantasies’ they quipped.

Empty tomb insufficient

Angelic vision grand or gruff

Even an ascended Jesus

Wasn’t resurrection enough.

It was Jesus’ appearances

To friend and to foe

That turned around history,

Showed it where to go.

The denier was restored

The deserters were found

The women who were grieving

Were all turned around.

And Saul the assaulter

Stopped dead in his tracks,

Saw Jesus arisen

And finally turned back.

And James his own brother,

Who had previously sneered (Jn. 7.5)

Began to believe

Just because he appeared.

No one witnessed Easter

At the dawn of that day,

But they saw the result,

Meeting Him on the way.

On the road to Emmaus

Or in mid-flight from the tomb

Or hiding in darkness,

Or near Damascus’ gloom.

They didn’t find Jesus,

No dreams calmed their fears

What changed their whole lives

Was when Jesus appeared.

The story’s too improbable

NOT to be true,

And that is why Easter,

Can still happen for you.

BW3 March 21 2008


Nathanael said...

Great write, dear brother.
You've definitely captured the moments.

You can find my own Good Friday poem at


Danny said...

I really like that picture. It is beautiful.