part two of two
It’s been a long couple of days. My thoughts have been overtaken by the events I witnessed on Friday.
The Romans are a brutal lot. Violence is common. But I just can’t get it out of my mind. What I saw. The man, Jesus, so battered and bruised and bloody. How can humans do that to one another? Equally as difficult to grasp is Jesus response. His words have taken their place in my mind and reverberate through my being. “Father forgive them…”
And those eyes… his eyes… looking at me. Seeing everything I ever did. Ever thought. Yet, his eyes did not accuse. Did not look away in disgust. Instead I was warmed by the look in his eyes. The noise and smells. The blood and brutal marks. His torn flesh. All faded from my senses. Love. Compassion. Kindness. Acceptance. These held my gaze. My attention. So much love…
I wrestle with what I witnessed. What I experienced. I can’t make sense of it.
Even more puzzling are the rumours that swirl through the city. Fantastical story tellers we have here in Jerusalem. Stories of this man, Jesus. Stories that the tomb is empty! That the body has disappeared!
One story is that Jesus’ followers stole the body. But how can that be? The stone in front of the opening of the tomb is heavier than what several men can move. Plus, they sealed the tomb! Besides, Pilate dispatched soldiers to stand guard. When a man is that popular with the people, rumours and unrest are bound to follow his death. Herod knew soldiers would be needed.
Rumours say that the soldiers fell asleep guarding the tomb. These were obviously started by ignorant people who know nothing of the treatment of soldiers. To fall asleep on duty, disobey the order given… and in a situation like this? Well, let’s just say their tomb wouldn’t be nearly as nice as the one they were guarding.
No, it’s the other rumour that has me unable to concentrate on my work today. Quietly making it’s way through the city. It’s a speck of light in this time of death and darkness. A tiny flickering light. Sadly, it will flicker only for a short while, then be snuffed out. Rumours don’t last for long. When the truth is known, rumours die.
At the moment, though, this rumour is alive and well. It sits in my mind blocking reasonable and logical thinking. I keep looking at it, turning it over in my mind. I’ve looked at it from every angle.
It can’t be true. Yet I can’t set it aside. And two words loom large and bright. What if? What if it is true? What if the rumour is true?
You see there was something else in Jesus’ eyes when he looked at me. It didn’t register with me at the time. I was so overwhelmed with the love in his eyes…. It niggled at me all day yesterday until I worked it out. It was peace! A very odd thing considering the place he was in. The pain he was in. Pain I can’t even imagine. Pain I hope I never have to experience.
How could he be at peace? How could he forgive? How, in that moment of pain, after betrayal by a friend. After being abandoned by his friends. How could he have love, kindness, compassion, acceptance in his eyes? How could he be at peace? I do not know the answer…. But the questions make me wonder…. Dare I say it out loud? Might this rumour be true?
How can I find out? Who can I ask? Will I trust anyone else with this? No, I must find out for myself. I must see for myself. It’s not far away, just outside the city. Regardless of distance, I need to do this for the sanity of my mind.
My steps are hurried. Now I’ve made the decision I will waste no time. The streets are not choked with people today. The city is still fairly quiet since the events of Friday.
My eyes must be deceived! The stone is rolled away from the entrance to the tomb! Who could have done this? Dare I go closer? The soldiers are gone. A quick look around tells me I’m alone… for the minute. For my peace of mind, I must go closer. I must see for myself.
The body is gone! Jesus is not here! And there! Can you see! Tomb clothes folded neatly where the body should be! My mind is spinning! What has happened? Is the rumour true? Where is the body? How can this be? I look in every nook and cranny. Even under the folded grave clothes. As if a body could hide there! No time to linger. More people may come. The soldiers may return.
I try to sort my thoughts as I walk, but seeing the tomb has not helped! My mind is in more turmoil!
Is it possible? Could he be alive? He raised Lazarus from the dead. And I had heard stories of others with death experiences being brought back to life as well. If Jesus did that for others… could he do it for himself? And if he can… well… what kind of man is this?
“Oh! Hello. I didn’t see you there. Lost in my thoughts today. Are you on your way into Jerusalem? It’s been a terrible couple of days here. Perhaps you heard about it? The crucifixion. Unusual because his crime was out of the ordinary. Something about claiming to be God. He was a man popular with the people. Despised by the religious leaders. Feared by the politicians. Maybe you’ve heard of him. Jesus. He was a rabbi who spent a lot of time north of here. The story is that he was a healer. That he treated all people the same—fishermen, tax collectors, women… Sorry, I ramble on. What about you? Why are you here.”
I turn. My gaze locks on his. Those eyes!
Love. Acceptance. Compassion. Kindness. And a knowing, somehow. Like he could see right into me. That he knew every thing about me. Every thought and question and bewilderment. And yet… Peace emanated from him. It reached right into my tortured mind. It settled my turbulent thoughts. The puzzling became a clear, bright picture. And I knew. I knew without question. With a knowing that went to the depths of me. My mind. My soul. My being. Jesus was not just a man. He was God! He was alive!
And in this moment, warm with His love, soaked with His peace, I feel that thin, worn, blood-stained strand of feeble hope grow. Grow and expand to fill every peaceful, knowing cell in my entire body. Grow and expand until hope meets faith.
Let’s journey together…