Today I am remembering Jean-Marie Pirot (1926-2018), universally known as Arcabas.
Arcabas, whose work I was introduced to many years ago by my friend and colleague David Jeffrey, is the great painter in our time of biblical scenes. Here he shows us the dead Christ in the tomb:
But look in the background there. An angel is keeping watch over the dead body … and he knows what’s coming:
Arcabas loved to paint angels. Sometimes they sing:
At other times they help painters paint:
But you know what they like best? Bringing good news:
One scene that Arcabas loved to paint — he did it several times — is the Emmaus road story, which, as it happens, is my very favorite passage in all of the Bible. Here Jesus is about to make himself known to his two discouraged friends in the breaking of the bread:
On this unprecedentedly strange Easter morning — one on which I do not have the privilege of sharing in that bread, that body broken for me — I find myself thinking of something the great missionary/bishop/theologian Lesslie Newbigin said in an interview he gave near the end of his life. The interviewer asked him whether he was an optimist or a pessimist. Newbigin replied, “I am neither an optimist nor a pessimist. Jesus Christ is risen from the dead!”