"The Disciples" painted in 1898 by Swiss Artist Eugene Burnand, was bought by the French State for the Luxembourg Museum in Paris and is considered one of his greatest works. Burnard was an artist of outstanding range and talent whose art had religious and basic life themes.
Those who take the time to find this painting, now hung in the Musee d’Orsay on the left bank of the Seine in Paris, come away saying that viewing the canvas is akin to a spiritual experience. Some say it is the greatest Easter painting ever made.
Consider the painting –
At the blush of dawn, 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 the tomb 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.
Peter 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 he can believe the reports, but he wants to. Oh, how he wants to. How did this artist capture such a variety of emotion?
Peter’s hand grasps his chest, as if feeling for courage. They both lean forward, walking briskly, readying themselves to break into a run. Burnand depicts no women, no tomb and no gardner.
What were they expecting? What were they hoping for? What were they desperate to find out?
We know the answer to those questions. They were hoping beyond hope that Jesus really was alive! Maybe John just wanted a few more hours with his beloved Jesus. Maybe Peter, uncertain because is his denial had immense anticipation of what it would happen when he saw Jesus. Maybe as they ran they remembered that Jesus had promised to rise again, but at the time many of the things Jesus told them were shrouded in mystery, so to them it was not clear. Soon they were to know reality – the risen Christ.
As I look at this picture it evokes in me this gut feeling of intense anticipation. It makes me wonder what am I expecting from God. Do I really believe and trust what He promised?
As you consider this picture, what does it evoke in you?
What are you expecting from God? What are you expecting with God in your relationship with Him?
Do you believe what He promised to Moses (Exodus 33:14) that His Presence would accompany Moses as he lead the children of Israel and that He would give him rest?
Do you believe what God spoke to Isaiah (Isaiah 8:1-17) to fear Him more than the culture?
Do you believe that God really is working in you both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:12-16)?
Do you believe that Jesus is seated at the hand of the Father and is preparing a place for you? (John 14:1-6)
May the Spirit of Christ who is interceding for us right now confirm in each of us that nothing will ever be able to separate us from the Love of God and that we know He will never leave us.(Romans 8:28-39)
A friend alerted me to this painting.