September 12, 2011

It Is Finished

Posted in Atonement, Cain, Good Friday, Suffering Servant tagged at 9:11 pm by Teresa Roberts Johnson

Weeping, Eve beheld her murdered son,
Slain as he was by treacherous transgression.
Lost forever to her, he was cursed,
And she was left to mourn for family dispersed.
Two sons, one slaughtered thus by sin but living still,
Who had in envy sought his brother’s blood to spill.

Though drowned in grief, her eyes of faith could see
Another mother weeping just as she.
Her Son, too, killed by sin one dreadful day,
But by His blood the curse is washed away.
Sweet Mary gazing back at Eve through woe
Says “My Son’s death will crush our common foe.”

Copyright © 2011 by Teresa Roberts Johnson (All rights reserved)


The juxtaposition of the images of Eve and St. Mary standing beside their murdered sons sets the stage for a dialog that “squints” across time, in much the same way that the curse on Satan looks across history from Eve to St. Mary. The first verse slowly unfolds events from Genesis 4 in reverse chronology, briefly misleading the reader to think that when Eve’s “murdered son” is mentioned, the intent is Abel. Instead, the phrase refers to Cain. Eve’s sin unleashed an enmity that has been played out in the heart of her own family; in pain she brought forth children and in even greater pain she lost two of them. When Cain killed his brother, the righteous son died to life, but Cain lived to die, murdered by his own sin. Perhaps the saddest verse in the Bible is Genesis 4:16, “Then Cain went out from the presence of the LORD.” We simply have no idea of the damage we do to our own souls when we war against righteousness.

We also have no idea how much suffering our sins brought upon the righteous Son of God, who was the Son of Man, Seed of the woman promised in Genesis 3:15. St. Mary’s Son was like righteous Abel, in that His blood was shed because of sin, but whereas Abel’s blood could only cry out from the ground to be avenged, the blood of Jesus “speaks better things” (Hebrews 12:24), as it covers our sins and provides atonement. Finally, the poem provides some hint of the suffering of St. Mary in watching her Son die an ignoble death, taking on the sins of the world. She, too, brought forth a child in sorrow, and her sorrow was mingled with joy when the sword pierced through her own soul as the sword pierced the side of her Son, bringing forth blood mingled with water. (Those ideas need their own poem!)


The original date on this poem is 13 July 2007 (time-stamped 6:23 AM!), which would have been a few months after I started seminary. There have been several revisions along the way, but except for St. Mary’s sentence, the changes involved mostly a word here and there. The title clause was originally included in the final line, but in posting it today, I changed St. Mary’s brief speech to echo the curse that God placed on Satan, the curse that mentioned the Seed of the woman. Making “It is finished” the title emphasizes the work of Christ as He accomplished all that was required for our atonement.

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