A Chaotic Resurrection

Happy Easter!

This Easter is chaotic and crazy and doesn’t make sense. Which, if you think about it carefully, is basically what the first Easter season must have been like. Because, let’s face it: things were a little bit strange in the very beginning. The Apostles were all hiding together for their lives, and then Strange Things began to happen that they couldn’t explain, other than perhaps the strange hope that maybe — just maybe! — Christ had risen.

But the confusion is definitely apparent, even in the gospels. The gospels don’t line up very nicely for their Resurrection narrative and you can’t help but get the feeling that the writers of the Gospel accounts really couldn’t make much sense of the timeline either. It was just too chaotic!

And so! For today, may I present this picture — which is also incredibly chaotic — for you and your viewing pleasure?

The Resurrection, by Francesco Buoneri, called Cecco del Caravaggio, c. 1619-20. Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, United States.
The Resurrection, by Francesco Buoneri, called Cecco del Caravaggio, c. 1619-20. Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, United States.

The title of this picture is “The Resurrection.” But it decidedly doesn’t look like your typical Resurrection picture.

Yes, Christ seems to be leaping out, like many other Resurrection pictures. Yes, there are guards there that seem to be startled. This is a very common theme for many pictures of the Resurrections!

But then, who is the man in the ragged clothes who is not a guard who seems to be startled upon inspecting the tomb? It is not a guard! Who is the other man in the background who appears to be running away who is also not a guard? Could this be Saint Peter and Saint John, discovering the tomb?

Why is the angel there? There is an angel (or sometimes a pair of angels) that appear to the Holy Women, or sometimes just Mary Magdalene, depending on the gospel account. But, there are no women there. So, who is this angel speaking to anyway? Is he speaking to us, the viewer, since he appears to be looking directly toward us?

And even the portrayal of JesuS Christ seems to be odd. Usually in pictures of the Resurrection, He will either be looking at the viewer or looking at Heaven. In this case, He is looking down at the chaos unfolding below Him. The only person who does seem to be looking at us is the angel.

Do you see what I mean? It is a chaotic picture that takes various accounts of the Resurrection and kind of slaps them together in a striking way. I can’t figure out whether I love it or hate it, honestly… it’s such a strange picture.

And yet, there is some comfort to be had by this picture. The fact that Jesus is not afraid to look directly downward at this chaos unfolding below Him gives me hope. Because it reminds me that Jesus Christ is not afraid of the chaos in our lives and is there to give us hope, when all seems to be lost.

And so, I hope you’ve had a happy Easter, even if it’s probably been the oddest Easter of your life!

Karina Tabone

Karina Tabone is a wife, mother of four, author, blogger, and lover of Christian artwork. She's the author of the Illustrated Rosary series, which pairs every prayer of the Rosary with beautiful religious artwork. She likes also milkshakes, sunshine, and mystery novels. Follow her on Twitter at @illustr_prayer.

3 thoughts on “A Chaotic Resurrection

  • April 20, 2020 at 12:01 am


  • April 27, 2020 at 1:59 am

    What is carved into the stone block at the bottom right corner of the chaotic scene of Jesus’ resurrection? Two figures, one draped forward from the waist as if unconscious or dead, the other as if holding up the block wall. Any ideasm

    • April 28, 2020 at 4:47 am

      That is a good question, and one that I am not sure about, actually. The museum that holds the painting currently doesn’t mention it at all, I am afraid! https://www.artic.edu/artworks/19336/the-resurrection

      I have two guesses…

      1) Since the male figure is nude, perhaps it is a depiction of Adam being thrown out of Paradise, so as to kind of re-emphasize the whole New Adam bit. Since there are a lot of legends and traditions tying Jesus and Adam together (one of my favorites being that Jesus’s crucifixion took place on top of Adam’s tomb — a tradition that is often alluded to in art with a skull placed at the foot of the Cross) it would not be completely out of place for this sort of allusion to happen, especially on what appears to be the tomb of Jesus.

      2) Or! The other theory that I have (that I do not like as much) is that it might be a mythological scene from Roman mythology put there, because Renaissance painters liked to paint these sorts of scenes, and patrons often commissioned these sorts of classic arts, seeing as there was a renewed interest in Pagan things back then.

      Honestly? I hope that the man depicted is Adam! 🙂 The symbolism would be sooo much cooler if so!


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