Tag Archives: the seven last words of Christ

The seven last words: Father, into your hands I commend my spirit

The loud cry startles them:

the lovers and the haters.

With jagged breaths

each syllable hurtles

over the precipice edge

into the void

between

now and the third day.

 

He bows his head.

The lovers weep.

The haters cannot think of what to say.

Hell trembles,

waiting for the harrowing.

© Marion Adams 2016

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The seven last words: It is finished

It is finished.

The second Adam

becomes obedient unto death.

 

Boulders cleave.

Tombs spew out the righteous dead

onto uncertain ground.

The curtain rips and gapes.

Glory, glimpsed.

 

It is finished.

A universe of grace unfurls.

© Marion Adams 2016

The seven last words: I thirst

In the wilderness,

between the wadis,

just before first light,

there were

dew-slicked rocks,

drops of moisture set like precious gems

in the folds of tiny leaves:

these helped him live.

 

But there remained a thirst

he could not slake.

It helped him overcome

deadening tedium,

draining acedia,

dizzying temptation,

drove him to heal the sick,

raise the dead,

send the fiends scurrying like rats.

 

To all who thirst, who ask,

he gives the living water.

 

And yet he feels it now,

with every desiccated cell:

this thirst

that will not be assuaged

until he draws all humankind to him

and the kingdom comes.

© Marion Adams 2016

The seven last words: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Psalm 22)

The question, surely, is rhetorical;

shorthand for this psalm of ‘yet’ and ‘but’.

Did he not know that,

in the dregs of the bitter cup,

he would taste its full, prophetic dereliction?

 

What is

the chill

that spreads through his veins,

the weight

that dislocates his joints,

the contagion

that coats his tongue

and blots him out?

 

Why has God, his God, forsaken him?

© Marion Adams 2016

The seven last words: Woman, here is your son … (‘Crucifixion’ by Franz Stuck)

 

This mother does not stand at his right,

waiting and composed,

as the sword-point,

with surgical precision,

pierces her soul.

 

This friend does not stand at his left,

hands raised or clasped,

in frozen supplication.

 

They stand together.

The friend supports the mother,

clutches at her blue-robed shoulder

in visceral despair

as vision darkens

and all that they can hear

is the silence of the angels.

 

They are doing, and they will do what he asks of them.

 

And light transfigures his torn body,

streaming from beyond this

bloodied coin of a sun,

this tilting sky.

© Marion Adams 2016

The seven last words: Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise

Thief? A euphemism,

brings to mind a sly child picking pockets at a market,

not this burly, naked thug strapped to a cross.

Robber? That’s more like it,

taking what he wants by force,

thinking that the world owes him a living.

Bandit? So the story goes. His name is Dismas:

lived in caves above the desert road,

terrorising travellers;

feasted on the milk and meat of stolen goats

or, most days, scraped by,

roasting forbidden rat and lizard flesh.

Always a man to whom the rules did not apply.

It has been said, a killer, too.

Murdered his own brother.

 

His former boss, Gestas

(if you believe the legend)

slumps against another cross;

teeth bared, drooling like a cornered cur,

set to fight to the death, which will be,

for him, a long time coming.

And between them,

not Barabbas, their old ally, but

this other Jesus:

the one

who claims to be a king – no, more than that –

Messiah himself.

 

‘Are you Messiah?

save yourself, and us!’

The rage in Gestas’ words

spreads like fire;

Dismas feels its heat

surge through him,

overriding pain,

and concentrate into a shout:

‘Go on, Messiah! Save yourself, and us!’

 

The man sags; a sigh escapes.

All he’s saving is his breath.

Gestas does not relent;

obscenities increasing in intensity,

spat out again, again, again.

 

The sky cracks open; streaks of light

marbling discoloured cloud.

Curses cool to ashes in his throat;

not for the first time, fear of the Wrath

racks Dismas, centres on the certainty

that God is just indeed,

gives him courage to confront

the snarling robber king with his,

with their, wrongdoing,

and its right, its proper consequence.

 

Meanwhile,

this man, this innocent,

this other-worldly king,

inclines his head, holds Dismas’ gaze.

‘When you come into your kingdom,’

Dismas says, ‘remember me’.

(Regret’s too small and too polite a word;

penitence, too meek.)

‘Jesus, remember me’. That’s all he asks.

It is enough.

© Marion Adams 2016

The seven last words: Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing

How can he say

these soldiers don’t know what they’re doing?

They are men who follow orders,

carry out commands,

obey instructions to the letter.

They have a job to do,

one they’ve done at least a dozen times before.

 

They do it well –

steady the shuddering hands against the knotted wood,

swing the homely hammer like a weapon.

 

They pause, breathe deeply, wipe impassive faces.

Torture’s heavy work,

even though the man they’re pinning down

does not protest, and pleads once only,

and then, not even for himself.

 

How can he, the stricken one

plead ignorance on behalf of those who strike him,

those who wield the scourge,

weave the spiked twigs,

spit, taunt and curse,

or stand apart, lips pursed or smiling?

How can he wish the bliss of God’s forgiveness on them all –

the brute, the psychopath, the pleaser of the crowd,

this whole foul-mouthed, coarse-natured,

pious, aloof, smug and indifferent

cross-section of humanity?

 

How dare he intercede for us, they think,

this pinned-down God, this mockery of a deity

we’ve rendered powerless.

© Marion Adams 2016