Poetry of Passion Week 2014

It was a great joy to reflect on Passion Week this year through the avenue of poetry. Here’s how that unfolded:

“Hosanna” – Palm Sunday

“With Zeal and Holy Flame” – Monday

“A Coming Day” – Tuesday

“Thirty Silver Pieces” – Wednesday

“See Him” – Thursday

“A River Flowed” – Friday

“Silent, Still, and Cold” – Saturday

“Rise” – Easter Sunday




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“Rise”–A Poem for Easter Sunday

Glorious news: Jesus is alive, risen indeed from the dead and never to die again. Women went to his tomb on the first day of the week, and they found the stone rolled and body gone. Wouldn’t you have some questions if you came upon such a scene? Imagine you’re asking the following ones, and God answers. [This format is inspired by the wonderful poem "God Answers" by John Piper.]

April 20, 2014
Easter Sunday

Where was the body when the women
Came at Sunday’s dawn?

But how? What happened to the stone that
Sealed the body cold?

Were not the soldiers there to guard?
What did they feel, if near?

How many thieves were needed to
Ensure the deed was done?

If the body was not stolen,
What else is there but fraud?

What did that body do while it was
Hidden from their eyes?

From death? To life? How can we tell
The world this news we know?



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“Silent, Still, and Cold”–A Poem for Saturday of Passion Week

On Saturday, the tomb was occupied with the crucified and dead body of Jesus the Nazarene. I wrote the following poetic reflection two years ago, but I’m including it in this week’s poetic Passion posts.

“Silent, Still, and Cold”
April 19, 2014 (first written April 7, 2012)
Saturday of Passion Week

On Saturday his body lay
Silent, still, and cold,
Entombed for one more night before
The stone began to roll.

Darkness seemed to triumph while
God the Son lay dead,
But in the morn his hands would pull
The cloth from ’round his head.

Disciples, now consumed with fear,
Did mourn their master’s death.
Yet joy would rise with Sunday’s sun
And new creation’s breath.

For one more night all hope seemed lost
As death claimed the last word,
But this second day would end with
Resurrection on the third.



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“A River Flowed”–A Poem for Friday of Passion Week

On Good Friday of Passion Week, Jesus died on the cross. Last year I wrote a poem about the cross, and I’m including it among the Passion Week poems I’ve been posting this year.

“A River Flowed”
April 18, 2014 (first written March 29, 2013)
Friday of Passion Week 

A river flowed, a crimson tide,
With mercy in its stream,
As Jesus Christ was crucified
By God through human scheme.

The sin he bore was not his own,
For ours he carried to
The wooden cross, the judgment tree,
To pay the wages due.

Hear him cry out “It is finished”
With his final breath,
For with this love he satisfied
God’s wrath and died our death.


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“See Him”–A Poem for Thursday of Passion Week

On Thursday of Passion Week, Jesus ate the last supper with his disciples, prophesied that they would scatter because of him, and prayed in Gethsemane with a soul full of sorrow. This is a poetic reflection on those events.

“See Him”
April 17, 2014
Thursday of Passion Week

See him in the upper room
With all of them together.
So much to say, so much to pray,
Before the night is over.

See him break the bread and say,
“My body, take and eat.”
Then the cup, raised up: “My blood
Poured out for you—now drink.”

See him warn them, “This night you
Will fall away and flee.”
Then Peter, louder than the rest,
Says, “Everyone but me.”

See him at Gethsemane
As he kneels to speak,
With sorrow in his holy soul
And friends whose flesh is weak.

See him fall upon his face:
“O Father let this cup
Pass from me, yet your will be done,
For you shall raise me up.”



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“Thirty Silver Pieces”–A Poem for Wednesday of Passion Week

Today is Wednesday, and we remember several events that occurred on that day during Passion Week. Particularly important was the agreement of Judas to betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. This poem reflects on that agreement.

“Thirty Silver Pieces”
April 16, 2014
Wednesday of Passion Week

The chief priests and elders gathered together
To plot how they might arrest and kill Jesus,
For two days away was the start of Passover,
But no plan was certain until they saw Judas.

Into the palace of Caiaphas came
One of the Twelve in sinister stride,
And though Judas seemed to come in alone,
Satan himself was dwelling inside.

“What will you give me if I would betray him?”
They said, “You like silver? How ’bout thirty pieces?”
Then Judas agreed and gathered the sum
And looked for a time to turn over Jesus.



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Mount Sinai and Mount Zion in Hebrews 12:18-24

I agree with the scholars who see (in Heb 12:18-24) seven images reflecting Mount Sinai that are then contrasted with seven images reflecting Mount Zion. Here’s how that breaks down.

“For you have not come to
(1) what may be touched,
(2) a blazing fire
(3) and darkness
(4) and gloom
(5) and a tempest
(6) and the sound of a trumpet
(7) and a voice whose words made the hears beg that no further messages be spoken to them” (Heb 12:18-19).

Then a few verses later, “But you have come to
(1) Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem,
(2) and to innumerable angels in festal gathering,
(3) and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven,
(4) and to God, the judge of all,
(5) and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,
(6) and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant,
(7) and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel” (Heb 12:22-24).

The stark contrast between Mount Sinai and Mount Zion is evident by the author’s use of seven images in both sections.

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