The Rejected Confession…


One of the most powerful and personally influencial paintings I’ve ever seen. 

The Rejected Confession by Ilya Repin, the master Russian realist painter (d. 1885) depicts a scene here that captured my heart many years ago when I first came across the painting as a cover-art on a copy of Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.  Now, these years later, and in the plight of my life, it enflames a passion within me even greater.

To do any justice to Repin’s work, please view a large, high resolution copy. 

Here is a man who has come to give confession and his confession has been rejected.  What has this man confessed?   What long list of sins and countless crimes has he brought forth?  For how long had this man poured out his misdeeds?  … Or was it but one sin confessed?  One act, once done? 

Why was his confession been rejected?   Who rejected it?  Was it rejected by the priest shown, or by his superior unseen? Alas, was it rejected by God? Was this wrong committed against the priest himself, or perhaps against the church?  In what way was the confession rejected?  Did the priest come out and tell him with kind, but firm words?  Or did the priest say anything at all?  Perhaps the man who confessed saw but the look in the Priest’s eye… and knew there was no forgiveness therein. 

Look at the expression of astonished realization upon the man’s face.  Is that shame lingering there or humility, confounded by the finality of his condemnation? 

Does not your heart break for the chance here for reconciliation with Life, with the church, with Faith, denied… missed… obsructed. 

Is this man now lost? Where does he go from here… out into the night- the unending night of the remainder of his dismal life?  To where can he turn, dear reader, if his very confession is rejected? To where is sinful man to turn if not to the church?  And if that body reject him… woe to that man.

Lord have mercy.


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