This is part three of a fictional account of a man on the fringes of Jesus Christ’s ministry grappling with the events of this holy weekend, all those years ago.
It still felt dark, even as the sun shined.
The mood in Jerusalem was sullen, and while some folks moved about normally, it felt as if time had slowed. Or maybe it was just me.
It suddenly occurred to me about midday that none of the figures around the now dead Jesus of Nazareth had been seen since that night. Had they died too? Rumors were spreading.
The Romans had probably hunted them down. After all, they were his disciples – might they continue his work even after he died? These Romans were ruthless, intolerable of distraction. It was safe to assume what happened.
It was terrible. I felt as hollow as ever, uninterested in food and unable to sleep. More than anything, I was frustrated with myself. Why I had allowed myself to care again? To believe? One takes a great risk in walking out on a limb, and now I found myself on the descent to the rocks. It wasn’t pain I felt – but dread. Pain was nearing.
Hours later, I looked out my window and saw people talking. I recognized some of the faces – these people had followed the Nazarene. Immediately I tensed – these people were effectively criminals. I needed no more of this Nazarene’s story.
I turned away. None of that mattered now anyway. I felt that sting again – of defeated faith. I needed this to simply be over. I needed to go back to before I had ever heard of this man.
But their voices … were they laughing? I looked back, confused, almost irritated. What was there to possibly laugh about?
As clear as day, as vividly as sunrise, I heard one of them.
“I saw him. He’s alive.” She was smiling as wide as she could, shaking and hugging those around her. Her voice was low, careful, but overflowing with joy.
Before I could notice, I found myself standing. I needed to hear more. I walked out of the house, consumed by this. What had she said? No, it couldn’t be. I walked straight over and interrupted them. They were so joyful, tears streaming down and around curved smiling lips.
“What did you say?” We were a contrast. Me, full of doubt and annoyance. No, worse – anger. I felt such a bitterness, so offended by their joy. This wound was not going to heal, clearly, and again that voice echoed in my ears:
There’s nothing to believe in anyway.
The slightly older woman nodded to the younger. The younger spoke.
“Jesus of Nazareth, friend. You are familiar with him?”
“Yes. He is dead.” The words came out cold as stone. My lips were straight, my brow tensed. I noticed my heart rate escalating, and even though a part of me wanted to hold onto anger, I sensed something new. Something light within me.
She smiled brightly, her lip quivering. “No, not anymore.” I felt the weight beginning to shed, the darkness moving away. I was now overwhelmed, sweating and intensely focused. At that moment, I didn’t know what possible news there could be, but I had to hear it. It didn’t make sense. Not anymore? Maybe she was mad.
She held the hand of the woman next to her. The tears continued to roll.
“Christ is risen.”