Journey to Easter

Journey to Easter—Introduction

March 24, 2018

The time is upon us.

Prophets have heralded the news for generation after generation.

We have suffered hard under the hand of one cruel empire after another.

But FINALLY our time has come.

Our 40 days of waiting are coming to a close.  Holy Week stretches out before us with the beautiful promise of Sunday morning.  But let’s not be hasty, for the dark days that lay ahead are necessary if Sunday is to dawn upon us bright and glorious.

We invite you to journey through the next seven days with us and imagine what it might have been like to not only witness the events of Holy Week, but to PARTICIPATE in them.  Join us as we “Journey to Easter” through the eyes of some of those who were there. Each day you will find one or more posts from the various witnesses (on both sides) to the greatest week in history.  Bible references will be at the end of each post to aid you in further study.  We hope you will share these posts with your friends, believer and non-believer alike.

Easter Blessings,

Your friends at Faith United Methodist Church

Journey to Easter—Palm Sunday

March 25, 2018

Blessed day!  Oh, blessed day!

For over a thousand years, the Children of Israel have lived at the mercy of one cruel people after another, but no more.  No more!  For today HE has arrived, the one promised us through Abraham by our Holy Father, the one who will free us from the hands of these evil Romans and return us to our place of glory.

I stood along the road which leads down from the Mount of Olives…I and dozens upon dozens more.  So thick was the crowd we could barely see the road before us.  Such fervor ran through us, knowing that the King had finally come.  Several of us raced forward to lay our cloaks upon the path of his donkey [how strange that he should be brought forth on such a humble beast], while others rushed to gather palm branches.  I took some branches offered to me and joined the crowd waving them in the air.  My voice rose proud, mingling with all the others…

“Hosanna! Hosanna to the Son of David!

Blessed is HE who comes in the name of the Lord!

Hosanna in highest heaven!”

The people from within the city walls, having heard our voices ringing out, began to come forth to see what all the excitement was about.  A man stood beside me as I continued waving my palm frond.  Leaning close to my ear he yelled above the crowd, “Who is this?  Why do you shout so?”

I turned to him, a smile upon my face so brilliant it could not be contained.

“This,” I replied, “THIS is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

He looked at me for a long moment, then we both turned back to the road, watching as my long awaited Savior rode toward the gates of Jerusalem.  Oh yes, it is a blessed day indeed!

[for more about Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, read Matthew 21:1-11 and Luke 19:28-38]

Journey to Easter—Monday

March 26, 2018

You would not believe the day I had.  It was just a normal day of exchanging money and selling sacrificial animals in the Court of the Gentiles when this Jesus comes in, yelling at us and throwing over all of our tables.  He even had the nerve to say,

“My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a ‘den of robbers’”, as if this was his personal house.  I don’t know who he thinks he is.

It’s not like we’re there illegally.  We have special permission to be there.  Sure, it may make it hard for the Gentiles to worship God, especially around this time of year, but that’s not really my problem.  And calling us “robbers”!  Really!  It’s not our fault only the local temple currency can be used and they didn’t happen to have any of the local currency where they were coming from.  And if we happen to make a little profit in the process, where is the harm in that?  Besides, we have to make a living and pay those abysmal Roman taxes.  And think of the valuable service we provide by selling sacrificial animals for those traveling from far away.  Sure, they may not always be in the best of condition, and we do charge a ‘modest’ premium, but where else are they going to get their sacrifices for Passover.  After all, I have got to make a living as well.  If it causes an inconvenience for the Gentiles and their worship of God, I can live with that.

The odd thing, though, I remember the children shouting while Jesus was there.  Something to the effect of “Hosanna to the Son of David.”  Funny, he didn’t look like any kind of king to me.  I’ll tell you this, I noticed the priests and teachers of the law, and they didn’t seem happy with this at all.  If I were him, I’d watch myself.  Of course, after what he did to my business today, I’d say he gets what he has coming to him.

[For more on Jesus’ rebuke of the money changers read Matthew 21:12-17, Mark 11:12-19, Luke 19:45-48]

Journey to Easter—Tuesday

March 27, 2018

He held us there in rapt attention, this rabbi, this Jesus.  We stood in the temple courtyard, gathered round him in a small mob listening to all that he had to say, though not always certain we understood his every word.  In the middle of his teaching, the chief priests and Pharisees arrived, huddled together like a mass of serpents ready to strike, their voices ringing with accusation—

“By what authority do you do these things?  WHO gave you that authority?”

Silence hung thick in the air as we looked from Jesus to the priests.  They were searching, always searching, for his weakness, that one false answer that would allow them to come away triumphant, knowing they had exposed him for the fraud they believed him to be.  Rumors abound about the contempt, if not the fear, that these “righteous” leaders felt for our Rabbi.  Even now, the hardness in their eyes told us they believed they had him, all they need do was wait for him to speak.  Holding our collective breath, we, too, awaited his response.

Jesus just stood there, calmly meeting their gaze with his own. When he spoke, his voice too was calm and he said,

“I have a question for you as well.  Answer me this and I shall tell you by whose authority I do these things.  Who was responsible for John’s baptism?  Did it come from heaven or did it come from humankind?”

Backs rigid, they clustered together into a tight huddle, discussing it amongst themselves.  Jesus merely stood there, waiting.  After a few moments they again faced our teacher.

“We do not know” they replied, coolly.

“Well then, “ said Jesus, “I will not tell you by whose authority I do these things.”

Anger burned in the eyes of the church leaders as Jesus turned back to us and began to speak in parables, those little stories he often used to try and teach us some higher point.  The more stories he told, the more it became obvious to those in the crowded courtyard that he was speaking about the church leaders.  From the hard glint in their eyes, it was apparent they knew it too.

All through the day they continued their campaign to trap Jesus in his own words.  And for each attempt Jesus had a cool rebuttal.  At one point he even faced our number and said,

“Beware those who do not practice what they preach.  They are quick to burden the people with heavy loads they themselves will not stoop to carry.  Those who think too much of themselves WILL be brought low.  And those who walk humbly will be lifted up.”

Such a strange man, this Rabbi.  His teachings are so different from any other we have known.  He is a favorite among the people, but he should take care…angering the high priests can lead only to his destruction.

[for more on Jesus’ teaching in the Temple, read Matthew 21: 23-45 and chapter 22]

Journey to Easter—Wednesday

March 28, 2018

Still reeling from yesterday’s public humiliation at the hand of that “rabbi”, that Jesus, I sought the council of Caiaphas.  As I entered the room, he was standing with his back to me, looking out the window.  Passover was quickly approaching and each day the crowds continued to swell.  With more people in the city, Jesus was finding larger and larger audiences for his blasphemous teachings.  Over the last weeks, the chief priest, truly all of us, had become more and more concerned about the growing danger this Jesus posed to our authority, to our faith.

“The people, like dumb sheep, are flocking to that Nazarene.  His audience is growing larger and he is growing bolder in his disrespect of the Temple priests,” Caiaphas said as he turned from the window to face me.  “That display yesterday in the Temple was revolting—refusing to answer our questions about the origin of his authority, saying OUT LOUD that tax collectors and PROSTITUTES would enter heaven ahead of us…revolting!”

In his rage, Caiaphas moved towards me, till his face was just inches from mine.

“Something must be done about this Nazarene and it must be done NOW!” he spat out.

No one was in disagreement with this statement, but what could we do?  We had tried repeatedly to snare him in a web of his own words, but each time he managed to out-maneuver us.  But Caiaphas was right, if we didn’t stop him soon, this Jesus would have our authority overturned and that mob of “stupid sheep” would become as a pack of hungry wolves.  And if the crowd did not destroy us, Pilate surely would, as he was growing less tolerant every day of our requests for help in stemming this rebellion.  There had to be something…

“Caiaphas,” I said, with a sudden feeling of growing hope, “I think I may have the answer.  There is a man among Jesus’ closest followers.  One that, rumor has it, has a strong weakness for coin.  If we could get to him, convince him to deliver this Jesus over to us, we could be rid of him once and for all.  A betrayal from the inside would deal a destructive blow to the whole of his followers.”

“Who is this man among his disciples that you speak of?”

“His name is Judas Iscariot.”

“Find this man,” Caiaphas said. “Find this man and bring him to me.  We shall see how weak this lamb really is and whether he is ready to turn wolf on his master.  This thing ends NOW.”

[There is no scripture reference to tell us what happened on the Wednesday of Holy Week, so we take this moment to ponder the pure hatred the church leaders had for the Messiah and how blind they were to the truth.]

Journey to Easter—Thursday

March 29, 2018

The day had come for the Passover lamb to be sacrificed.  We were now gathered in the Upper Room, reclining around the table laden with bitter herbs, unleavened bread, lamb and wine.

The night was full of all sorts of unnerving things, leaving the Twelve of us confused and somewhat frightened.  From the beginning, when our Teacher stooped before us in the posturing of lowest servitude and told us that we must allow him to wash our feet or we could have no part of him, saying,

“If I, whom you call Lord and Teacher, can do such things, then you also, must do them to one another. For no slave is above his master, nor is the messenger greater than he who has sent him.  Do as I have done, and you will be blessed.”

Confusion only grew deeper as he began to talk of the bread and wine in our feast as “His Blood” and “His Body”, telling us we should partake of it, as it was the new covenant he made with us.  But when he said that one of our number, his closest friends, would betray him, we were undone.  One of us, betray him?  Not likely!

We inquired of him, “Who could do such a thing?” but before he answered he tore a small piece from the bread and then said,

“The one who receives this bread after I have dipped it will be the one.”

All eyes remained fixed on that piece of bread as he dipped it in the bowl and turned his gaze to….Judas?  For seconds their eyes met but Judas did not take the bread.  Then slowly, he raised his hand, his fingers brushing those that held the bread.  His eyes turned downcast as he slowly put the bread to his lips and ate of it.  The room was silent, shadows from the oil lamps dancing along the walls and over the faces of those gathered at the table.  Then Jesus looked Judas straight in the eyes and said,

“What you prepare to do, do it quickly.”

As if a fire were lit under his feet, Judas quickly fled from the room into the dark of night.  Looking around at each other, our eyes full of questions, Jesus’ next statement sent shivers throughout my entire being.

“Simon, Simon, take care!  Satan looks to sift you like chaff from wheat.  But I have prayed that your faith will remain strong. When you have again found your footing, you must then strengthen your brothers.”

“Lord!” I cried to him, unable to hear him say such deplorable things about me. “Lord no!  I will NEVER turn from you.  I would…I would DIE for you, you must surely know this!”

Placing his hands upon my trembling shoulders, he looked straight into my eyes and the love and sadness I saw there was my undoing.

“Peter,” he said to me, “I tell you truly, before the rooster crows three times, you will deny me completely.”

In my head I heard myself shout again “No, Lord!” felt my head shake violently in protest of all he said.  No! This was my Teacher, my Friend, my LORD, I would not betray him.  But in truth, I did none of these things.  Instead, I held his gaze and felt the love that flowed through his hands into my shoulders.  And a single tear rolled from my eye down my cheek.

[For more about the Last Supper, read Luke 22: 7-13, John 13: 4-16, 21-30, Mark 14: 22-24]

Journey to Easter—Thursday part 2

March 29, 2018

It’s been a long night.  I really don’t enjoy these middle of the night details.  However, when the chief priests call you to duty, you don’t argue.  Plus, when it comes to apprehending someone who is a serious risk to the community, its’ best to approach them in the night when they are least prepared.  Take for example Barabbas.  We were heavily armed for that man, and he put up quite the fight.  Imagine my surprise when I found out it was the one they call Jesus.  We could have grabbed him any day and at any time.  The man was never armed.  However, it looked at first that we might be in for a fight when one of his followers jumped up and slashed at one of the servants, injuring his ear.  Then Jesus not only told them all to stand down, but he also healed the injured man.  Then all of his followers scattered.  One of them even fled naked.  I thought they were highly devoted to him.

I am confused, though.  Why were we so armed for this?  The man came so peaceably that it was unnerving.  I don’t see the risk he poses.  The chief priests must have their reasons, but it’s beyond me.  However, it’s not my place to question orders; only to follow them.

[for more on Jesus’ arrest read Matthew 26:47-56, Mark 14:43-52, Luke 22:47-53,  John 18:1-11]

Journey to Easter—Friday

March 30, 2018

Despite the early hour, dozens upon dozens of spectators had already gathered outside the Governor’s palace.  We eagerly awaited the customary release of one of Pilate’s prisoners—a highlight of the Passover Festival.

Two prisoners stood on the platform above us…Barabbas, a vile, revolutionary man accused of murder and a Nazarene, some rabbi they called Jesus.  Pilate sat on his bench between them.  A movement to my left caught my eye; men in priests’ robes began slowly moving through the crowd.  Another group of chief priests and elders were gathered near Pilate’s bench, arguing with him of the dangers the Nazarene posed to Jerusalem, even Rome.  A murmur began to snake through the crowd…

“the Nazarene is a blasphemer”…”he has threatened to destroy the Temple”…”this Jesus will destroy all of Jerusalem with his band of renegade followers’…

I returned my gaze to the platform.  Barabbas stood to the right, wild in appearance as well as in demeanor.  Revolutionary.  Murderer.  To the left stood Jesus.  He appeared to have suffered some at the hands of his captors, but an eerie calm seemed to possess him.  Rabbi.  Blasphemer?

Pilate continued to argue with the chief priests and elders.  Finally Pilate stood up and raised his arms, one pointing towards Barabbas, the other towards Jesus.

“Who would you have me release to you this day?”

Voices from the front of the crowd began to yell…

“Barabbas!  Give us Barabbas!”

Again, Pilate spoke to the crowd…

“I find nothing in this man Jesus to mark him guilty.  Which of these two would you have me release to you?”

“Barabbas…BARABBAS!”

Pilate’s gaze turned to the Nazarene, who stood unflinching as he faced the crowd.  Turning back to us he asked…

“What should I do with him then?”

Throughout the crowd, priests continued to circulate, leading the crowd in chanting…

“Crucify him, crucify him”

Again, Pilate looked to Jesus then back to us…

“Why?  What has this man done that you should call for his blood?”

“Crucify him, CRUCIFY him!”

The chanting was louder now, growing as a great swell upon the ocean as it prepares to break upon the shore…

“CRUCIFY HIM, CRUCIFY HIM!”

Deafening now, the roar of…

“CRUCIFY HIIIIIMMMMM!”

rang in my ears, until I realized that the cry had spilled forth from my own lips.

Looking out upon us for a moment as the chanting continued, Pilate finally walked to a pitcher and poured some water into a basin.  Dipping his hands into the water, he held them up before us and said…

“I am innocent of this man’s blood.  He is yours to deal with.”

And like a giant beast, those of us in the crowd gave forth a single cry…

“His blood be on us and our children—CRUCIFY HIM!”

Two Roman guards released Barabbas from his shackles and with a victorious sneer, he melted into the crowd.  Jesus, alone, stood on the platform.

[for more on Jesus’ trial, read Matthew 27: 15-26]

Journey to Easter—Friday Part 2

March 30, 2018

His nearly naked body was so bloody, so beaten, he almost didn’t look human.  Each breath was a struggle as he…crawled… really, that’s the only word to describe it…as he crawled up the road to Golgotha with the instrument of his crucifixion upon his back.  That back, ripped clean of its flesh…that back that had to scream out in pain with every inch he drug that cross forward.

Dozens of us lined the road as the Roman guards taunted him, pushing him on.  Whenever he stumbled, they were there with their whips, snapping the air near his face.  Finally tiring of Jesus’ inability to carry his load, the soldiers plucked a man from the crowd and forced the cross onto his shoulders.

Among our number were women, crying out in wailings so pitiful, surely God in heaven could hear them. Jesus suddenly stopped and turned his battered face upon them and said

“Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but rather weep for yourselves and your children.  The days are soon to come when all will say ‘the women without children, those with empty wombs, they are the fortunate ones!’ They will say to the mountains ‘fall on us!’ and to the hills they will say ‘cover us!’  For if men do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

With those words spoken, he again fell silent and continued on his labored path up to the place of his execution.  The crowd continued to follow him, and the women, the women they continued to wail and mourn.  They would not be consoled.

[for more on Jesus’ journey to the cross, read Luke 23: 26-31]

Journey to Easter—Friday Part 3

March 30, 2018

I don’t know what to make of this.  I am a centurion, dedicated to Rome.  I have called upon Jupiter, Mars, Apollo, and even Sol Invictus to see me through many a campaign or battle, and I have offered up more than my share of offerings and dedications in that time.  Never in all my time have I ever witness anything like this Jesus of Nazareth.

First, this man was crucified like any other criminal.  In fact, he was crucified between two thieves.  Normally, I wouldn’t even take notice of someone like this.  The crowds, however…  Never has there been this large a crowd to witness the death of a common man.  Whoever he was, he had the Jewish religious leaders in an uproar.  I think it infuriated them even more that there was a sign above him reading “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.”  Beaten, bloodied, and naked.  Not like any king I’ve ever seen.

At the same time, I’ve never seen a man more powerful.  I’m used to men who are being crucified to cry, beg for mercy, and curse us.  Not Jesus.  Here he was, being beaten, mocked by religious leaders and thieves, and crucified, and yet he asked God to forgive them; to forgive us.  He was either a mad man or someone truly special, and I fear it is the latter.  I have no other way to describe what happened next.

With no explanation, darkness came over all of the land.  It stayed that way for three full hours.  Then, when Jesus died, the whole earth shook, knocking us to the ground.  On top of that, I’ve heard reports that people have seen dead people walking among the living, and that the thick veil in the Jewish temple was torn in two at the same time that Jesus died.  I would say it was a sign from the gods, but in all my devotion, I’ve never seen the gods, even Jupiter himself, do something like this.  If it wasn’t the Roman gods, then maybe there is something to this God that Jesus spoke of, the one he referred to as Father.  But how could any father do this to his son?

Yet, as I now look upon this Jesus who has died, I am filled with a sense of awe, wonder, and, strangely, peace, that I have never felt before.  Was he truly more than he appears?  Did he, as he stated, come to save us all and lead us to God?  Have I deluded myself in following the Roman gods all these years?  Despite all my prayers and offerings, never have I witnessed the likes of which I saw and heard today.  Something deep inside tells me what he says is true.  Surely this man was the Son of God!

 

[for more on Jesus’ crucifixion, read Matthew 27: 45-56, Mark 15: 33-41, Luke 23: 44-49, and John 19: 28-37]

Journey to Easter—Saturday

March 31, 2018

An oppressive sadness lay over those of us gathered in the upper room.  One by one many of us had returned in secret to this place in order to hide from the Roman guards, for fear they might crucify us as well.  Peter sat alone in the corner, wracked with guilt, having admitted to us that he had denied knowing our Lord, not once, but three times.  Not being there at the end…the agony in the truth of his betrayal, it was almost more than he could bear.  Mary Magdalene sat with Jesus’ mother, arms around each other in a display of mutual comfort.  I cannot imagine the pain His mother must be experiencing, having watched her beloved firstborn die in such a gruesome manner.  John stood near them both, a symbol of his promise made at the foot of the cross to take Mary as his own mother.  A few remained scattered and we prayed for their safety.

But there was one for who’s safety we could not pray…Judas.  It was still unfathomable to us that he could have betrayed our Teacher, truly all of us, in such a manner.  Judas had lived with us, prayed with us, worked with us—yet for a mere handful of coins he sold our Lord to be crucified.  But where Peter’s guilt drove him to repent, Judas gave in to his guilt; word had reached us that he hanged himself.  Our number was already dwindling.

And what now?  Our beloved Teacher was dead, and the blood of that death clung to the hands of the high priests—our own people!  Should we all flee and if so, to where?  When Jesus called us all to follow him, we left our families and our homes behind.  Could we just return to our old lives, after all we had witnessed, after all we’d been taught?

“He said he would rise in three days,” said Mary.

We all turned in silence to face her.  Was her grief clouding her mind?  Did she really think…

“He SAID he would rise in three days.  How many of the things he spoke came to pass?  Do you not believe he can do THIS as well?”

Looking around the room, the same expression painted each of our faces.  People do not return from the dead…yet Lazarus had.  Was it possible…?  Might he truly rise again…?

Did we still have reason to hope?

[Not much is mentioned about the time between Jesus’ burial and his resurrection. So we take a moment today to ponder how the disciples might have felt in the wake of his death.]

Journey to Easter—Saturday part 2

March 31, 2018

This insanity is almost over!  No one has vexed us, challenged our authority, the way this Jesus did!  He challenged our knowledge and understanding of the Holy Scriptures, and he even had the audacity to denigrate us in front of the Jewish people.  The Jewish people actually loved him more than us.  Worse, he blasphemed against God Himself!  He was not the Messiah!  The Messiah would have recognized our piety called us to be his innermost circle.  This Jesus surrounded himself with lowly fishermen, tax collectors, and sinners; not even people who studied the scripture and the law.  It’s as if he had no regard for our rules and rituals.

However, thanks to Judas, we were able to secure him away from the crowd and put an end to this madness.  We even encouraged the people to crucify Jesus instead of Barabbas.  There is no doubt that he is dead.  We witnessed it ourselves.  We also made sure that he was placed in the tomb and a big stone placed in front of it.  On top of that, all of his followers have gone into hiding.

However, we didn’t take any chances.  We remember his claims that he was the Son of God, was God, and would rise again in three days.  The last risk we could take would be for one of his disciples, or any of his followers, sneaking into the tomb, stealing his body, and claiming that he had risen.  Fortunately, Pilate helped us with this one.  First, the tomb was sealed under Pilate’s authority.  With this, we had official confirmation that Jesus’ body was in the tomb, and then seals placed on the tomb to ensure no one could sneak into the tomb and steal the body.  Under Roman law, the penalty for breaking the seal was death.  His disciples wouldn’t dare.  On top of that, Pilate also authorized guards full-time to make sure no one messed with the tomb.  Jesus is dead, and that is the end of that.

Still, I won’t fully rest until these three days are over.  This Jesus has foiled us at every turn.  On top of that, there are so many stories of his miracles and healings.  I think they are delusional rants and trickery, but the people are convinced.  It doesn’t matter.  It will all be over soon.  After all, a man can’t rise from the dead, can he?

[reference to the events mentioned can be found in Matthew 27:62-66]

Journey to Easter—Saturday part 3

March 31, 2018

What a monumental waste of our time.  By Jupiter, there are so many other things we could be doing right now!  Instead, the four of us are stuck here guarding a dead body!  It’s not like he’s going to get up and walk away.  Even if he did arise, he’s not getting out of that tomb.  Not with that stone in the way.  It takes four of us to roll that huge stone as it is.  There is no way someone as beaten and bloodied as that man, even if he were alive, could possibly move the stone on his own.

His disciples overpower us and steal the body?  Not a chance!  They are fishermen, tax collectors, and other Jewish ilk.  We are some of Rome’s finest, and we take our duty seriously.  We would have them cut down before they even made it to the huge stone, let alone try and roll it open.

Try and sneak past us and steal the body?  Not on my life!  There is only one way in or out of that tomb, and it’s through the huge stone.  I would think we would notice if someone tried to open it.  Our lives are forfeit if we dare fall asleep on duty.  On top of that, they change us out every three hours to make sure we don’t fall asleep.  No one is getting in or out without our notice.

Pilate took it seriously, though.  On top of placing us in front of the tomb, he had it sealed.  Anyone who breaks that seal has just signed his own death warrant.  Roman law demands it.

Fortunately, this will be all over soon, and then we can be on to more important duty.  Supposedly, the claim is that he would rise in three days.  I don’t care who their god is, he’s not that powerful.

Rise from the dead and get out of that tomb?  Not on my watch!

[reference to these events can be found in Matthew 27:62-66]

Journey to Easter—Sunday

April 1, 2018

The sun had not yet risen to chase away the dark of the night, which matched the darkness of my spirit.  I made the climb to the garden tomb, intending to anoint the body with more fragrant oils and herbs. As I came over the rise to look upon the tomb, my heart stopped.  The stone, it was no longer sealing the tomb, but rather, was rolled some distance away.  In my shock, the jar of oil slipped from my hands, breaking upon the ground.

Turning swiftly on my heels, I ran back to find Peter and John.  Breathlessly I cried,

‘He’s gone! The tomb, it’s…it’s empty, he’s gone and I have no idea where they have taken him!”

The two looked at each other, first in disbelief, then they took off running up the hill toward the garden and Joseph’s tomb.  I hurried to keep up with them.

John reached the tomb first, but did not enter it.  Instead he stooped down to peer into the opening, finding the linen shroud that had covered Jesus now lay discarded with no body in sight.  As Peter reached the tomb, he strode past John and went inside.  There he found the head cloth neatly folded and placed some distance from the rest.  John slowly entered behind Peter.  The two of them just stood there looking at the empty clothes.  Confused as to what had happened, they turned, walked past me and returned to the city.  I could do no such thing.

Instead, I stood gazing into the open tomb through a haze of tears.  Who could do such a cruel thing?  Why?! Wasn’t brutally murdering him enough?  Must they steal his body as well?

Taking a deep breath, I bent to look inside.  I was startled to see two men, clothed in blinding white robes, sitting where my Teacher had once lain.

“Woman, why are you crying?”

Why?  Why was I crying?!  Full of anguish I replied,

“Because they have taken my Lord and I cannot find where they have put him!”

Feeling lost and confused I spun around to leave and saw another man standing just outside.

“Why do you cry so?  Who is it you search for?” he asked.

Thinking he must be the gardener, I grasped my hands together, pleading…

“Sir, please, if you have taken him, TELL me where he is and I will go and get him!”

“Mary” was all he said in reply.

And suddenly, as if a veil had been removed from my eyes, I saw him standing there…

“RABBOUNI!”

Joy such as I have never known coursed through me.  Alive!  He’s alive!  Oh God in heaven, our Master is alive!

[for more on the resurrected Jesus and Mary Magdalene read John 201: 1-16]

Journey to Easter—Sunday part 2

April 1, 2018

JESUS IS ALIVE!

I saw him!  I talked with him!  I ate with him!  What started as the worst possible day ever has turned into a miracle.  His remaining disciples are saying the same.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

It started out earlier today when Cleopas and I were on our way to Emmaus.  We were talking about Jesus’ crucifixion and still reeling from the impact.

Anyway, we were joined by a stranger along the road.  Neither Cleopas nor I recognized him, but we were welcome for the company.  However, we were stunned when he didn’t seem to know anything about the past few days.  How could he not know?!  Pretty much all of Jerusalem had been talking about what happened with Jesus.

We began to fill him in on what happened, about the mock trial by the chief priests, and how Jesus was handed over to be crucified.  Jesus was a powerful prophet!  We really thought he would be our redeemer, but how could this happen to Jesus?

We then shared with him the stranger part.  We’re now on the third day since Jesus was crucified.  Some women among our group tell us they were at the tomb this morning, and it was empty!  On top of that, they speak of seeing angels that told them Jesus is alive!  Alive!  Some others also checked out the tomb and found it empty, but no one has seen Jesus himself, or his body.

Then this stranger amazed us with his knowledge of the scriptures.  He began sharing about Moses and the prophets and how all of these scriptures related to Jesus.  He seemed surprised that we didn’t realize that Jesus would need to suffer before entering glory.  He showed again and again how our scriptures pointed to Jesus and what he would do.  We had never realized it before.

We convinced him to join us for supper.  As he was breaking the bread and offering it to us, it’s like a veil was lifted from our eyes.  This whole time we had been talking to Jesus himself!  How did we not recognize him?  We felt the burning in our hearts as he shared the scriptures with us.  How did we not realize it for what it was?  And just like that, he disappeared from our sight.  This was no hallucination.  We both saw, talked, and ate with him.  There is no denying it.

We rushed back to Jerusalem as fast as we could to find the Eleven and those gathered with them.  Amazingly, they shared that Jesus had also appeared to Peter.  We’re not the only ones to have seen him!  The empty tomb, the angels, Jesus himself…  It is a true miracle.  This is not news we can keep to ourselves.  We must tell everyone!

JESUS IS ALIVE!

 

[for more on the resurrected Jesus and the men on the road, read Mark 16:12-13 Luke 24:13-35]

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