15 April 2000

Facets of the Resurrection

Here I use fiction to understand the Resurrection by imagining the reaction of some of the witnesses. This has been read in congregations world wide.

I keep returning to this place and time. A large boulder, golden in the sun, stands beside the open entrance to a tomb.

I saw Him! At first, I couldn't believe my crying eyes, but He is alive! The man who saved my life has reclaimed His own!

I wanted to touch Him, I wanted to throw myself into His arms for joy, but he stopped me. He said He wants to meet us in the hill country north of here. And then He vanished.

But I did touch Him. Just before he went, I knelt and touched His sandal.

Now, I don't know what to think. The past few days have been so nightmarish, and now they are ended by this simple glory — He is alive! How can I tell the others so that they will believe me? May the Lord give my mouth the words to speak, and them the ears to hear.

I have to go. I have to see Him again. North, in the hill country.
— Mary Magdalen

The women are convinced that they saw Jesus alive this morning. I understand how people can see what they want to see, if they want it badly enough. Our hearts can lead our eyes to deceive.

Still, God knows I wish it were true! But I have to do more than see. I need to hear him, to touch him, before I can believe it.

If he hadn't killed himself, Judas would have died of heartbreak this morning, hearing the women.
— Thomas

I tell you I don't know what happened. I passed out, see. And no, I was not the worse for drink. I hadn't had a drop more than usual. I just passed out, and when I came to, this boulder was moved and so was he. He was gone. How the boulder got rolled, I don't know. The only new footprints about are small, like ladies' sandals, and not enough of 'em to roll that.

Anyway, he was dead, and now he's dead and gone. What's it to you?
— A Roman soldier
 Resurrection? Only the pagans believe in resurrections, and promiscuously so.

As for us, our prophets Enoch and Elijah were taken up, but they did not die. If and when they return, it will not be from the dead, because the Lord took them to Himself, rather than sending them to Sheol, the Place of the Dead.

If these rabble-rousers sincerely believe this falsehood, then not even the threat of death will stop them, and the hard choice I made in getting their leader executed may have been in vain. They could bring the wrath of our occupiers down upon us, ending the official toleration of our religion, destroying us as a people. Surrounded by enemies, occupied by enemies, and now enemies within.

May the Lord preserve us!
— Caiaphas, Head Priest
 My cowardly silence at his trial, and again when the Procurator offered to release him, helped his enemies kill him. The least I could do was to give him the tomb I had built for the day when I would leave this world. And now they say he is risen from the dead. That he just got up and walked out.

I feel as if the awful drama, in which I and so many others sacrificed his life to save ours, has been undone, taken back, blotted out. I feel forgiven.

I must find him, if I can, and beg forgiveness from him. Then this feeling will become real.
— Joseph of Arimithea
Now this is too much! The guy preached a false Torah, claiming that the relationship of all Israel to the Lord is as nothing — that we must each relate to the Lord as individuals. Ha! To be the Chosen People, we must be all together one people, Israel. His cult of hyper-individualism could destroy us from within!

His just punishment should have put an end to that. But now his followers claim that he is come back from the dead! These cultists will stop at nothing. I suppose it's my job, my calling, to knock them off their high horse.
— Saul of Tarsus, Pharisee
 My Roman masters will say that Rumor has run through the city, whispering that the seditious faith-healer, whom Pilate crucified, has sprung back to life as if he were one of their gods! Then they'll say that the Pantheon's too full to admit a barbarian whose wretched ghost couldn't keep his friends from scaring a drunken guard and stealing his corpse.

Perhaps I can convince the real powers of this world that if we eliminate his followers, the mob will take them for martyrs, and become even more restless. Best to leave them alone to make fools of themselves.

It is ironic that this man's followers now preach a message that is heresy to both my masters' religion, and my people's. I suppose it would be heretical to me, too, if I could still believe.
Ultimately, it will not matter. Time will snuff this out, as it does all things.
— Herod Antipas, Tetrarch of Judea
 These Israelites all look alike and have the same names. On the one hand Jesus of Nazareth, who called himself the Son of Man, and apparently also the Son of God, and King of the Jews. On the other, Jesus Bar-Abbas, Jesus the Son of the Father. No wonder some people think the one executed has risen from the dead. They confuse him with the one I freed.

It seems there is no way to keep order among these confused, contradictory, and stubborn people. You do what they ask, and they hate what you do. Ye gods, shorten my stay here, and send me back to civilized Rome!
— Pontius Pilate, Roman Prefect of Judea
He is risen, the rumor says. Maybe he was God. Maybe the other rumor is true, that his followers stunned the guards and stole his body.

I say the proof will come with time. If he is risen, let him come back with power to free us from these foreigners. If we are not freed, then, risen or not, he is not the Messiah.

And whatever happens, May God have mercy on me, a sinner.
— Anonymous bystander
This changes everything! At first I thought the women were addled with grief, but then I went and saw the tomb myself.

No, the movement which experienced it's leader's death is not ended — because its leader is no longer dead, but lives! This movement is just beginning. And it will live because its leader has power over death itself. The movement shall live because we shall not die, but live. With Him! For surely, if He raised Lazarus, and raised Himself, He will not forget us?

Now I know that He is the Messiah! What wonderful things must come! I can hardly wait to go north tomorrow and find out!
— Peter

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