30 May 2014

Joanna: Finished

Luke 23:50-24:10

It is finished
- over,
our hopes as broken as your body.
There's nothing you can give me now.
Your healing hands are pierced and torn,
your loving heart - cold.

There's nothing you can give me now,
no benefit in staying here -
but here I am
by your side
not taking anymore,
but giving
a last gift to you.

It is finished
- over,
We wrap you in linen -
one last look at your face.
We roll the stone before your grave -

The seed has fallen
into the ground.
Will it awake
to bring forth fruit?
Lord, is it finished -
or has it just begun? 


[30. May 2014]

Actually this is long overdue; I was going to post this on the Saturday just before Easter, but was really busy and not happy with the first draft, so now more than a month later here it is... I suppose other things I've written go a bit deeper but I dunno. Was focusing on the double meaning of "finished": over, or complete. "Over" would mean it's the end, there's nothing more, this is where it stops. "Complete" means fulfillment, that something has been done. To many of Jesus' disciples, seeing Him die must have made them feel all was over. But when Jesus said it is finished, He meant complete: He had fulfilled what He came to do. It was not the end though.

The "setting" of this poem, or the scene in the background, is supposed to be the burial (because Joanna was probably one of those present). Might be visible in the third stanza.

Maybe the second stanza is a bit of a "mistake" in the sense that it makes a point which does not appear in the rest of the poem... so maybe I should either have left it out or elaborated the thought somewhere. But I'd find it a pity to cut it and I don't know how to elaborate so I'll just leave it for now. The thought there is that at Jesus' grave, we have a powerless Jesus. Those who stayed with Him there knew that they could not "get" anything out of Him, because He was dead. What do we stay with Jesus for - the things we get from Him? Or His own sake? I believe that we should not just believe in Jesus and follow Him because He promises us eternal life, or because we might get good things and blessings from Him, but believe in Him just because of who He is. Because even if He does not give us what we want or expect, e.g. if He leaves some prayers unanswered, that does not change anything about who He is, or change the fact that He is worthy of glory just because of who He is.

Last part is a reference to John 12:24 - "Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit."

Because this is a "passion" poem for Holy Saturday, it only hints at Easter, doesn't directly talk about the Resurrection yet. But for us it is certain: Jesus rose again~ So we already have the answer to Joanna's uncertainties.
But even after the Resurrection, when we have a powerful, living Jesus, not a dead and helpless one, I think we need to ask ourselves: do we stick with Jesus because of the benefits we expect to get, or do we stick with Him for His own sake? Do we believe in Him in order to get something out of Him, or do we submit to the true Lord just because He is the true Lord?

Picture by Caravaggio... my favourite depiction of this scene actually (so far).

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