Who for Love

This sonnet is based on Mark 10:17-22 when a rich young ruler approached Jesus with the question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”

The rich young ruler shows an earnestness and a deep feeling about his question and its related concerns. When he meets Jesus he drops to his knees. When he leaves, he goes away sad. There seem to be many contradictions at work within him. If one really has everything, how could they want anything more? If one has done it all, what could be done for them? And what can you receive with hands that are already full?

He looked at him and seeing, he loved him–
This man waiting for the answer to come,
This man who hoped in the law of his limbs,
Who held everything, left nothing undone.
But he was undone with the teacher’s word,
“One thing you still lack,” the poor rabbi said,
“Sell all you have–be delivered of your hoard
Make God your only treasure instead.”
In this miserly, moneyed moment of time
His dis-heartened heart chose to trust
Only the good which he could call “mine”.
And he gave himself to that which would rust.
Away in sorrow his heart’s wealth he bore
Empty of the treasure: Who for love became poor.

© Randall Edwards 2016
Artwork: James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). The Rich Young Man Went Away Sorrowful (Le jeune homme riche s’en alla triste), 1886-1896. Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper, Image: 6 9/16 x 9 9/16 in. (16.7 x 24.3 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription, 00.159.159 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 00.159.159_PS2.jpg)

Waking to Our Fear

This sonnet is based on Mark 4:35-41 when the disciples and Jesus cross the Sea of Galilee and are caught in a storm. What I imagine confounds the disciples, is that even though he delivers the disciples from the storm he seems indifferent to the threat (these sorts of storms happened and these seasoned fisherman knew it). Even so, Jesus leads them out. Having led them into probable trial, not only does Jesus leave the tiller untended, he falls asleep at the wheel.

At the end of Jesus’ ministry, I wonder how the disciples imagined Jesus’ crucifixion and burial played into the plan of God’s bringing peace? Did he always intend to lead them into the storm? Or did he do so that he might rise when all hope seemed lost and speak, ‘Peace!”

It was because you wanted to that we
Started for the other side that evening–
Crossing at night Galilee’s fitful sea
When the cool of Mt Hermon comes beating.

And as we’d seen a hundred times before:
You lose when caught in the night-storm’s billow;
Reeling in fear, we pulled and pushed to shore
While you slept sound on the tiller’s pillow.

And shouting, Lord! Don’t you care if we die?
We did as you asked! Ignored our warnings!
Waking to our fear, he spoke to the sky
Which fell still as a spring Sunday morning.

Who are you that into the storm you lead
Permitting despair, that your friends be freed?

© Randy Edwards 2016
This sonnet is for Christ’s church and is included my collection of poems, Walking with Jesus. If it is helpful, please feel free to copy or reprint in church bulletins, read aloud, or repost. I only ask that an attribution be cited to myself (Randall Edwards) and this blog (backwardmutters.com). Thanks.
artwork: Gustave Dore

What Carries?

This sonnet is based on Mark 2:1-12 which tells of a paralytic who is carried by his friends to a house where Jesus is speaking so that Jesus may heal him. When they find that they can’t get close enough to Jesus, they dig a hole in the roof of the house and lower him on a mat in front of Jesus.

It is a wonderful story about carrying. The friends carry their friend whose own legs won’t carry him to the healer, Jesus. The scribes and pharisees carry out an investigation and question whether Jesus has committed blasphemy in forgiving the paralytic his sins. Jesus declares the man’s sins are forgiven, but Jesus also carries out the healing the friends and the paralytic himself sought so that all may see he carries the authority to do just what he said. In fact, he has come to carry out what is necessary to bring the forgiveness of sins and the healing of the world. Lastly, the man carries out his mat and is carried along with the joy of new life.

Carried along, my four friends bear me to
The healer and teacher come to our town
With the hope that he might right, heal, undo
These cursed, lifeless limbs that have let me down.

But the way is barred (so many others)
Another closed door leaves me lost, reeling,
Carries me under, fear floods and smothers—
My sin surely shuts the way to healing.

Carried down, sinking, a dug hole passed through
Into dark on the bier that’s borne me here;
I lie on the earth but find him here too
Who came first, who forgives, carries my fear.

“Arise! Take your mat,’ I take my burden
Carried forth in joy, loved, forgiven.

© Randall Edwards 2019.
This poem is for Christ’s church. If it is helpful, please feel free to copy or reprint in church bulletins, read aloud, or repost. I only ask that an attribution be cited to myself (Randall Edwards) and this blog (backwardmutters.com). Thanks.
Artwork: James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). The Palsied Man Let Down through the Roof (Le paralytique descendu du toit), 1886-1896. Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper, Image: 9 5/16 x 6 9/16 in. (23.7 x 16.7 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription, 00.159.123 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 00.159.123_PS1.jpg)