“What’s going on?” the man said loudly before either of us knew what woke us – or even that we’d fallen asleep. He talked late into the night, captivating me with his stories. My mind raced between amazement that he was serious, and confusion – I mean, things he described simply don’t happen. But it all aligned with what I’d been hearing all day. I barely spoke the entire night but listened intently.
But now, something in me also sprang to life as the excited woman ran past us calling something about the tomb being empty. The man immediately bolted after her.
I had intended to leave early for the journey home, but I wound up dozing on the street next to this man. And yet heartbeats after my ears and eyes awoke, I was running after these people – I wanted to call to the man when I realized I never asked his name. I could hear their winded, excited, voices ahead of me, their feet pounded the ground and I did my best to catch up.
Soon I could see a huge stone sitting aside a carved opening in the rock, and the woman looking in from outside. When I arrived the man walked out of the tomb and silently hurried toward the town. The woman called to him, sobbing, “I tell you, the shroud, the napkin we covered his head with were sitting to the side, neatly folded. He was already gone.”
The man called back something about guards… and not enough people to move that stone. He couldn’t have seen me. He kept walking only faster.
A myriad of emotions overtook me – entirely exhausted, every hair on my body stood on end as though the air I breathed was charged with energy. I don’t know why I walked around while there could have been guards lingering about. Still, I studied the ground until I found a level place and sat to lean against the rock wall.
I don’t know how long I sat there until the light disturbed me. Overwhelmed with all my mind had to process in such a short time, I stood and staggered around a few steps to see the woman still standing at the opening of the tomb, weeping openly.
But the light – brilliant light I’ve never seen or even imagined, and I heard a voice, barely audible from where I leaned against the rocks, yet I clearly, distinctively heard the words from the source of the light, someone, some being seated on the stone,
“Don’t be afraid!” he said to her, “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said… And now, go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead…”*
Frozen in place, I watched the woman turn and run where the man had gone earlier. Then the light was gone as fast as she was and a dust cloud wafted over the scene.
Drawing every bit of strength I could muster up, shelving logic as best I could for the moment, I stumbled to the opening next to the stone where the being sat moments before.
As I peered into the darkness, suddenly the same light inside the tomb almost blinded me and yet I could make out the forms of two men. They said in perfect unison, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive?”**
I’m not sure what happened, I might have fainted. And yet I was more rested and energized than I had ever felt before. I recognized the sounds of footsteps swiftly approaching. Uncertain about anything anymore, I tried to not think. I climbed around the rocks again and hid. Though they all talked at once, some of the voices sounded upset, like the people that had been here earlier.
I slipped a few more feet away as quietly as I could. And yet I no longer cared why. I felt so… so relieved. I began walking, barely feeling my weight on my feet. Once past the tombs and on the road, I turned toward home. I couldn’t care about anything I left behind. Lost in my thoughts about my new friend and all he told me, all I heard from people, I could hardly wait to tell the friend I’d missed all week all I’d learned about this Jesus that was crucified.
Sure, he’ll probably think I’ve lost my senses. I don’t care. This Jesus lives!
“Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
John 20:28, 29 (NIV)
*Matthew 28:5-7 (NLT)
** Luke 24:5 (NLT) Paraphrased with creative license