By Denise Trull
Resurrexit sicut dixit. As He said.
The joy of these words has been following me around all day. While my potatoes were boiling for dinner and the lamb was cooking away in the oven, I took down my King James Bible and had time to revel. I LOVE this translation. It is beautiful, magical, poetical in its language, and arresting in its expression. Worthy language for a great King's exploits.
Reading one Gospel account after another gives me the feeling of being out of breath with the excitement of it all -- that day of days. For, indeed, I wish with every fiber of my being that I had been in Jerusalem that day. It is a day filled with visceral emotions, so human, yet so sublime.
There are earthquakes and angels, brighter than the sun, moving immovable stones. Roman soldiers flee for their lives. (What WERE they thinking, those pragmatic Roman soldiers?!) They run into town and tell the elders of Jerusalem and are paid not to tell anyone else. So, the elders knew who Jesus was -- that indeed he was the Messiah. Their envious refusal to accept God’s way with men is exposed anew in this act of final deceit that would infect the likes of St. Paul down the road. Chilling.
Mary Magdalene meets angel after angel telling her to go tell the brethren that Jesus goes into Galilee and they are to meet Him there. She turns and there, there, THERE is Jesus walking towards her. She falls to her knees and tries to touch his feet, but obeys his command not to. He tells her to go and tell the brethren. She goes.
Meanwhile Jesus is walking all over Jerusalem in the flesh! It's an amazing and charming thought. He can't wait to be among them again. He meets two men on their way out of town toward the country and tells them also to go tell the apostles that He lives. They obey and go back.
The dead are rising all over the city and are walking among the living. Loved ones see their loved ones again. I think we forget the whole city was under this miraculous spell of Divine immortality. People saw it! People felt it! They were running here and there and moving among the crowds looking for old friends from Jesus's days on the road. And they all breathlessly told each other what they knew, what they heard. What they SAW with their own eyes.
The Master was alive. Peter and John had been summoned by Mary Magdalene very early in the morning. They saw the empty tomb and believed. But they mysteriously hightailed it right back to the upper room and missed the angels' message. They believed but were....afraid. Rumors of the Lord alive were brought to the apostles by excited men who had run all the way back from Emmaeus. Was it too painful for them to stir up hope in their exhausted hearts?
They all sat ruminating on their particular guilts: Peter restored, but his emotion raw with memory of denial. All of them looking around and seeing no Judas and remembering the scene in the garden when he had betrayed his loving friend with a kiss...and they had...all...fled. If He did live, was Jesus angry? How would it be if He DID appear to them? Would it be a bright light, a voice of power, well deserved reprimand? Would he strike them dead? No.
He appeared to them in a simple room, in a room He had shared with them in familiar ways. Eating. Drinking. Talking. Singing hymns. Breaking the Bread. Oh, the utter gentleness of God. How does one appear to eleven, frightened, heart sick, regret ridden men with the Good News? But this is Jesus, the Christ, of whom Isaiah said,
"The Lord GOD has given me a well-trained tongue, that I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them." And so He did.
His first word: "Peace." And even then they scattered across the room in fear of ghosts. He had to speak gently: Touch me. I picture them slowly moving back to Him from all the corners of that room "incredulous with joy" and then actually grabbing his outstretched hands, handing Him a piece of fish and watching Him eat. And then one, hesitant at first, huge, embrace of all. A look of utter forgiveness and gentleness for Peter, a friendly shove to Andrew and Philip, trying to answer all their questions at once, but making sure to touch all of them with those gentle hands on their heads, their shoulders, their outstretched hands: I am here in the flesh. Do not be afraid.
And at the end all seated around Him to receive His final words as He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures: "You are the witnesses of these things" And weariness was no more. They had seen the Lord in that upper room where the scent of bread, which was so much more than bread, lingered still.
As is the way with earthly time, the sun did start setting on that day of resurrection. This glorious day of high feeling and doubts and belief and light and angel voices. Jesus lived. How would they ever sleep again? But sinking to the floor in exhausted joy they slept the sleep of those who knew that He had risen indeed. AS. HE. SAID.
They would wake in the morning to a world that needed to know what they knew. But tonight, tonight I can't help but think Jesus walked among them sleeping there, tenderly looking down on each face so glad that He had run the course and finished the race. The laurel of life was His. Alleluia!