An Account of the First Easter: Part VII

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Saturday the disciples spent observing the Sabbath in hiding, for fear of the Jews. But before sunrise on Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene and two other women went to the tomb, bringing spices to anoint Jesus’ body. They were concerned about who would roll the stone away for them, but when they approached, they found it standing open. Going inside, they found it empty, but two men in dazzling garments appeared and asked them, “Why do you look among the dead for one who lives?”

They ran back to tell the 11 disciples, most of whom did not believe them — but Peter and John ran straight to the tomb. John arrived first, but waited to follow Peter inside. They found everything as the women had said, with the linen wrappings lying neatly in the tomb, which was otherwise empty.

The women arrived behind them, and Mary remained behind when they left, standing by the tomb weeping. A man whom she thought to be the gardener came up to her, and asked her why she wept. Upon hearing that Jesus’ body had been taken away somewhere, “the gardener,” Jesus, only spoke her name, and she immediately recognized him — for his sheep know his voice — and she was filled with joy.

That same day, two of Jesus’ followers were walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus, about 7 miles away. They were talking about all the events of the past few days. Jesus came up and began to walk with them, but they did not recognize him either. Their faces were full of gloom when he asked what they were talking about (Luke 24:18-24). Jesus replied that they were dull, and then explained to them everything that the scriptures said about him (wouldn’t you like a copy of those notes!).

When they reached the village, Jesus pretended to be going on, but they urged him to stay with them, because it was getting late. When they sat down at table to eat together, Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and gave it to them, just like had had done in the upper room. Immediately their eyes were opened and they recognized him… and he vanished from sight.

The two men jumped up immediately and returned straight to Jerusalem to tell the 11. While they were all discussing it, Jesus himself appeared in their midst, and said “Peace be with you!” He showed them his scars, and Thomas responds, “My Lord and my God!” We may often call Thomas “the doubter,” but he was the first person to call Jesus God, with no qualifiers. Peter called him “Christ” and “Son of God;” Thomas just says, “You are God!”

Jesus then did a strange thing: he blew on them and said “Receive Holy Spirit.” John records it with the same word as the Septuagint (Greek Old Testament) uses in Genesis 2 when God breathed into Adam and he became a living creature; the Greek word is otherwise unused in the New Testament. Here God has made a new creation, and we wind up this account in the same way John does in his gospel:

Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. But these are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.

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