“The Easter Story” by Gennady Spirin.
“The Easter Story” according to the Gospels of St. Matthew, St. Luke and St. John from the King James Bible. Henry Holt and company, New York, 1999, 32 pages.
The most significant events in Christianity occurred during Holy Week. Beginning with Palm Sunday and concluding with Easter Sunday, Holy Week encompasses the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Lord and Redeemer of the world.
All four gospels have extensive accounts of these painful and wonderful days. Gennady Spirin, famed Russian artist, has created a beautiful book about Holy Week. Drawing on his Russian artistic training, Spirin has written and illustrated a stunning account of Holy Week. The name of this book is “The Easter Story” and Spirin uses the King James translation of the Bible as his narrated text.
Readers first see Jesus riding on a donkey into Jerusalem. This triumphal entry is accompanied by the joyful shouts of the people greeting Our Savior as He enters Jerusalem.
Next, we witness Christ entering the Temple and driving out all of the moneylenders. The merchants have made the Temple into a commercial enterprise instead of a spiritual house of prayer. Preaching the message of the gospel, Jesus addresses the worshipers in the Temple and cures the blind and the lame seeking physical healing.
Spirin goes into great detail in illustrating the Last Supper. As the apostles repose near the table, Christ transforms the Passover meal by taking the bread, blessing it and giving it to the disciples saying: “This is my Body.” (Mt: 26: 26) Then Our Savior takes the cup and gives thanks and proclaims: “Drink ye all of it; For this is My blood of the New Testament which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Mt: 26:27-28)
Having fortified the Apostles, the next scenes show the Agony in the Garden. We see Jesus being strengthened by an angel for the next series of events in the Passion: His arrest, trial and crucifixion. The author uses St. John’s Gospel to show Pilate pleading with the mob to release Christ. But when the rabble questions Pilate’s loyalty and friendship to Caesar, the Roman governor acquiesces to their demands for a crucifixion.
A wordless two-page spread graphically details the crucifixion. The sky is black; the colors are muted but the center cross holding Jesus is brightly lighted. Spirin captures the heartbreaking moment when the body of Jesus is laid across His heartbroken mother’s knees. The Blessed Virgin once again holds God on her body.
But the sorrows of Good Friday are soon to give way to the magnificence of Easter Sunday. The final pictures show the triumphal risen Savior. The dreary pained colors in many of the preceding scenes are now transformed into the bright beauty of salvation. As the Easter liturgy will later proclaim: “He has risen, He has truly risen.”
This is an outstanding book to teach children the biblical accounts of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Our Lord. By using the actual words from the gospels of St. Matthew, St. Luke and St. John, the author brings majesty to our understanding of the events. Some of the pictures and events in the Passion may be unsettling for children necessitating some explanation by adults reading the text. I can’t encourage you enough to use this book or to read these passages from your family bible to youngsters in the home. It will foster a love for Christ in your hearts. Have a Blessed Easter.