Ben Witherington is one of my favorite NT scholars. But he is also a poet who I enjoy very much. His recent poem is one on the resurrection that is inspired by Nikolai Ge’s Painting ‘The Harbingers of Resurrection.’ You can see his full post here. Since it is Good Friday I thought it was worth sharing:

    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.

Thank you Dr. Witherington for your scholarship, your love of Scripture, your love of Jesus and your poetry.

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