Last Words, Part One – "The People Stood Watching"

Last year for Easter, I participated in a project at our church to reflect on the seven stations of the cross and the last seven statements made by Jesus before his crucifixion. I thought maybe I’d share a few of these this year. A couple won’t show up right in the blog because of formatting issues, so I probably won’t post those. Writing these poems forced me to really consider the words of Jesus, why he said what he did in these final moments, and reflect on my engagement with and role in the Christian narrative. We’re four weeks away from Easter now, so I’ll try to post once a week before Easter, maybe with an additional narrative about the writing of each poem.

The People Stood Watching

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” – Luke 23:34

Come, see a man who told me everything

I ever did. A man who healed my eyes,

fed me bread he multiplied, poured my cup

of wine, washed my feet, called me out

onto the sea, cursed the unfruitful tree,

received my kiss on his way out of Gethsemane.

Come see a man who raised me from death,

beckoned for me from my tomb, knew me

in my mother’s womb. See him, how he saved


Let him save himself, if he is the chosen

one, the Son of God, of Man, a Nazarene.

Come draw lots with me—which piece

of clothing do you need?

In this poem, my goal was to put myself in the place of a person who stood watching Jesus raised up onto the cross, especially a person who had experienced so much of Jesus’s ministry up until that point. I wanted to feel that statement, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” in light of all that he has done. I think if I were to write this poem again today, I might personalize it even more and reflect on those things that Jesus has done in my own life, and what my lousy response has been, how forgetful I am. In fact, I might do just that. Why not, right?

Published by Sarah M. Wells

Sarah M. Wells is the author of The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Gospels to Help Kids and Parents Love God and Love Others (2022), American Honey: A Field Guide to Resisting Temptation (2021), Between the Heron and the Moss (2020), The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Bible to Help Kids and Parents Engage and Love Scripture (2018), Pruning Burning Bushes (2012), and a chapbook of poems, Acquiesce, winner of the 2008 Starting Gate Award through Finishing Line Press (2009). Sarah's work has been honored with four Pushcart Prize nominations, and her essays have appeared in the notable essays list in the Best American Essays 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018. Sarah is the recipient of a 2018 Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. She resides in Ashland, Ohio with her husband and three children.

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