Resurrection Morning: Peter and John
This painting by Eugène Burnand hangs in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. It’s titled Les disciples Jean et Pierre accourant au sépulcre le matin de la résurrection (The disciples John and Peter running to the tomb on the morning of the Resurrection). Ever since we saw it in person 18 years ago, we’ve thought of it every year at Easter.
What I find so moving is the emotion captured in the painting: Peter and John are so anxious, not daring to believe the news they’d just heard about Jesus. In previous days, they’d gone through Gethsemane and Jesus’ arrest, Peter had denied him three times during the night, and they’d watched Jesus’ crucifixion and burial. For them, it was over, and we can’t even imagine how disappointed, lost, and alone they felt without their leader.
Then that Resurrection morning they heard the news – Jesus was alive! Jesus was alive?! What?! You can see the unease and agitation in their faces. The things they’d heard him saying while he was with them – about being buried and then rising again after three days – finally started to sink in and bloom as hope as they ran to the tomb. And it was true – He was alive! What exhilaration and excitement! What a relief to know that He in whom they’d placed their trust was actually worthy of everything they’d given Him! What a swing from hopelessness and despair to joy and confidence!
So this Easter, we come back to this painting, and imagine that moment again, when Peter and John had just heard the best news ever. Happy Easter! He is risen!
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