Bible poems

Judas, the Friend of Jesus

Judas is so easy to hate.
The  betrayer, the snitch, the bad seed,
his name synonymous with treason.
No one cries when we hear he’s hung himself.
We all think, “Finally he gets what he deserves.”
Cast into the darkness of disgrace for all time,
who mourns for Judas?

But Judas was there from the beginning,
called like every disciple,
leaving behind everything to follow Jesus.
He was there in the boat, watching Jesus walk on water….

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Emmaus Road Poem

Two travelers trudging
the long road from Jerusalem.
Their sorry faces are bent,
reliving the sad event
that sent them scurrying.
“What next?” they wonder.

The stranger comes alongside,
and he is told the sad tale,
but far from sympathizing
he starts scolding them;
too slow of heart,
too slow on the uptake,
not enough faith….

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Mary on Easter Morning

We were weighed down, walking to the tomb.
We knew the way, for we had walked it two days before.
We had followed Joseph of Arimathea and his servant
down the hill from Golgatha,
their arms straining with the dead weight of Jesus’ body.
We saw where they laid him, how they wrapped him in linen.
We saw their shoulders pushing that stone in place,
the sound of it grinding shut.
And though our eyes streamed tears
we marked the place,
for we knew we would come back.

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Jesus Makes Breakfast: A Poem about John 21:1-14

I could smell that charcoal fire a long way off
while we were still rowing far from shore.
As we got closer I could smell the fish cooking,
I imagined I could hear it sizzling.
When you’re hungry, your mind works that way.

When the man by the fire called out asking us about our catch,
we held up the empty nets.
And his advice to throw the nets in once more
is something we might have ignored,
except for the smell of cooking fish…
this guy must know something  about catching fish!

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Christmas Reader’s Theatre: For Unto Us a Child is Born!

A reading for up to ten people, with an optional “people” response.

Narrator:  Waiting, watching, hoping against hope,
the faithful have looked and longed for a Saviour.
Wrapped up in our own lives, in our own struggles,
consumed with our own desires and sins,
still, our hope was in God.
At long last, all generations cry out,
“For unto us a child is born”.

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Inside and Outside the Stable: A Christmas Poem

Inside the stable there is darkness pushing in,
a small light, perhaps, illuminating three faces.
The murmurs of a baby’s cries, his snuffling and suckling,
the rustle of straw, the sound of animals shifting.
The smell of sweat and blood and manure,
the fragrance of milk and sweet baby.
The  touch of a hand on a smooth small forehead,
a man’s arm holding a body still shaking with afterpains.

Outside the stable, darkness is pushed away,
radiant brightness illuminating shepherds, flocks.
The gasps of fright as grown men topple to the ground,

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Good Friday Poem: Peter

My first thought was, “It’s not going to be me.”

Jesus, in a voice barely audible,

told us we would all become deserters.

When I protested, he looked at me,

singling me out,

and said that I would deny him too.


After everything we’d gone through together,

after all I’d left behind, these three years of ministry…

how could he doubt me?

Was I not the only one who stepped out of the boat,

waves raging, my one thought to be at his side? 

With all my heart, I’d told him what I knew to be true,

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A Poem for Joseph and His Brothers

It wasn’t the colourful coat

or even Joseph’s dreams that tipped the balance.

Maybe it was the day—too hot,

or maybe just the fact that there was a pit.

If the traders hadn’t happened by

they would have all had supper together,

Reuben’s voice as eldest

would have decided the outcome.

But instead the cup of resentment,

filled drop by drop for years,

is drained in one sudden act of violence.

The deal is done, the money changes hands

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Poem for Lent: Jesus’ Angels

It was a miracle really, that we were there at all.

We sold our trade goods remarkably quickly

and set off for home far earlier than expected.

The long trek through the wilderness went so fast,

it was mid-day when we came to the spring where we always stop.

Having gained so much time, we decided to spend the night.

My son Cornelius took the notion of climbing the high mountain,

“I came to see the world, Father,” he said to me!

It’s our last trip before he becomes a centurion,

he’ll see the world soon enough.

I sent two servants with him (there are lions in these parts),

and the rest of us settled in for a long nap in the shade…

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About Carol Penner

I am a Mennonite pastor currently teaching theology at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, Ontario. I’ve served congregations in Ontario and most recently, Alberta.

I love to write and to lead worship! If you are finding my writing helpful, I would love to hear from you! Feel free to use or adapt the material here, it is all written by me. If printing material, please credit “Copyright Carol Penner” (and say whether you modified it). If publishing, please contact me for permission. Contact me at

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