After Easter, before Pentecost!

Good Monday Morning to this week 17 of 2019

A relatively little known Swiss artist named Eugène Burnand. (1850-1921) painted a rather old-fashioned realist in 1998 while all the others were embracing modernism.

The Disciples Peter and John running to the sepulcher on the morning of the resurrection.

Those who take the time to find it in d’Orsay come away saying that viewing the canvas is similar to a spiritual experience. Some say it is the greatest Easter painting ever made.

Les Disciples Pierre et Jean by Eugene Bernard, Musee D’Orsay in Paris France Europe

Screenshot 2019-04-21 at 23.40.40

As the first blush of dawn is tinting the clouds, Peter and John are rushing to the tomb of Christ. They’ve just been told by Mary Magdalene that she and the other women found it empty, that Christ has risen. Her words are ringing in their ears. But their faces and their bodies reveal they aren’t sure they can believe her.

John, the younger of the two, wrings his hands together anxiously. He was with Jesus when he died on the cross, the only disciple to stay by his side to the end. He looks as if he can barely bring himself to believe that Christ might be alive again.

And then there’s Peter. While John was Jesus’ only faithful disciple, Peter was his most faithless. He was the only one to verbally deny even knowing Jesus in his darkest hour. In this picture, Peter looks terrified, hopeful, ashamed, desperate. He’s not sure whether he can believe the reports. But he wants to. Oh, how he wants to.

Peter’s hand grasps his chest as if feeling for courage, the courage that deserted him just nights earlier.

They both lean forward, walking briskly, readying themselves to break into a run.

Aren’t these all pictures of the moments before, at Easter and before Pentecost, moments described with enormous emotion drawn by Burnand.

Bearing the burden of our brokenness, ashamed of our denials of Christ, and hoping against all hope that Jesus is alive? And that he loves us? And forgives us? Surely this is also the posture we have felt or we know or we long for, to lean in, wringing our hands, clutching our chests, desperate and hopeful for the truth of his coming, the return of the Messiah and the coming King, so closely after the greatest defeat of time.

Burnand depicts no women, no tomb, no gardener. Only the promise of what’s to come.

Is that your experience of Resurrection as well? We take it by faith and we’re desperate for it to be true. We rush headlong into the future, holding ourselves in order to believe, trusting that Christ is alive and that he will return to vindicate our feeble faith and forgive us our trespasses.

May this overlooked masterpiece be a comfort to you this season between Easter and before Pentecost. May your faith increase and your brokenness be healed.  May your eyes be filled with the same desperate hope that Peter’s and John’s were on that first Easter morning.

I wish you a wonderful week of expectation, faith and wonder.

Philemon

Screenshot of the masterwork of Eugene Bernard 1899,
Quotes and comments of Michael Frost
Special thanks also Todd Todd Rutkowski for posting  FB 21.04.19

 

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