Blog 30: The EASTER Series (Part 4)— Mary's story …Who Stole the Body?

Today's writing is a story based on fact. The characters are real, but the storyline has been changed (just a little).

I hope you enjoy.

Three days after the Crucifixion

With 2,000 years of history, the Gospels and Prophesies of the Old Testament, it is simple to look back and wonder why the followers of Jesus were so slow to recognise that Jesus was not going to remain in a tomb.

He had told them on several occasions that He would be betrayed, crucified, buried, and on the third day rise again.

Everything He had foretold so far had happened;

  • He was betrayed—by Judas, (John 13:21—27)

  • He was arrested by the Priestly and political classes (Luke 24:7)

  • Disowned by Peter (Matthew 26:36 & Matthew 26:69-75)

  • Handed over to the Roman soldiers, scourged and crucified. (Matthew 27:26)

  • Once pronounced dead, his body was taken down from the and hurriedly buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea (Matthew 27:57—60)

He had been hurriedly buried, late Friday afternoon and now it was Sunday morning.

So why weren't the followers of Jesus, lined up outside the tomb to welcome a risen Saviour?

‘The stone had been rolled away’ PHOTOGRAPH: Source unknown

This time last week

This time last week we were celebrating Jesus' arrival in Jerusalem. Last Sunday was a public relations masterpiece.

Palm branches and clothing on the road.

'Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’ (Luke 19:28—40)

He could have taken seized power in a popular uprising. He was the promised Messiah. (Matthew 21:1-11)

At least that's what we thought.

Revolution was only a breath away and that really scared the political and religious leaders. They had procrastinated about it too long. They had to act now or risk the obliteration of the last two tribes of Israel.

Their opportunity came from an unexpected source—Judas. (Matthew 26:14—16)

The city held nothing but bitter memories and despair and the possibility of imprisonment and even death.We were afraid and faced another day of uncertainty. Nothing happened yesterday, but yesterday was Shabbat and nothing happened between Sunrise and Sunset—That was the tradition.

Even they wouldn’t break their own rules and laws, no one broke with tradition. They may be cruel and unmerciful, but they were bound by their own traditions. Sunrise wouldn’t be far off, the clouds to the east were beginning to take form. Soon the tinges of dawn would spread across the sky.

One more time

We had to leave today, we had to get out of this place of death and damnation.

The stifling rules and regulations of city life. Their closed alley-ways filled with filth and refuse. The sights and smells that once excited the senses, now left us numb. We longed for the openness of the lake and valleys, far to the North.

Perhaps I could visit His final resting place, one more time.

The men weren’t in favour. They saw no point. Jesus had been buried by Joseph and Nicodemus. Then the soldiers came—again. Can’t they leave His body in peace.

Something about rising on the third day. The politicians weren’t taking any chances. They asked that the grave be sealed and guarded. No chance of grave robbers. The entrance had the Roman seal on it. (Matthew 27:62-66)

Break that seal and you'd end up like Jesus did. None of us wanted that. We had seen enough suffering to last us a lifetime. If only we knew what the future was to bring.

The stone that sealed the cave entrance rolled down a slight incline. It was grooved and easy to move into place. It would have taken several strong men with levers to pry that entrance open again, once it was closed.

Perhaps, just perhaps, the soldiers would have pity and let us anoint His body, properly. It had been a rushed job on Friday. Surely they couldn’t be that mean hearted could they? They probably were. Jewish soldiers (Matthew 28:11—13) can be as cruel as their Roman counterparts. There would be no lenience shown. Orders had been given and orders were never broken—on pain of discipline. Fear is a strong motivator.

Before I left His grave on Friday evening, a campfire had been started. No point in starving or freezing in the cold spring Jerusalem nights. No, these troops were old hands. They knew how to survive and remain comfortable. Last night would have been easy duty for them. A squad of 16, sharing the watch between them. Easy.

After Shabbat, Mary, James' mother, Salome and I had been able to prepare burial spices and perfumes to anoint His body (Luke 23:56), We could only try, after all women have had ways of persuading men since the dawn of time. Perhaps there was a way to see the body one more time.

We’d stayed at Mary’s house in Jerusalem, the place where we’d shared the last supper. The three of us planned to leave before sunrise. Perhaps offer the soldiers breakfast in return for asking a favour, ‘roll back the stone.’ If they would, we could anoint His body properly.

Nicodemus and Joseph had done a fair job, considering the circumstances, but they lacked a woman’ touch.

Chaos

The pinks of dawn were shining through the olives grove. As we approached the garden tomb, the earth shook violently (Matthew 28:2). There had been several major earthquakes over the past days—and some very strange reports followed. (Matthew 27:52—53)

We arrived to a scene of chaos.

The huge stone that once sealed the entrance to the grave had been rolled back and a young man—an angel, was sitting on it. At least I thought it was an angel.

The soldiers had gone. The blankets were strewn around, as were the lances, swords and cloting. Stew was simmering over the hot coals. Breakfast untouched.

‘They left’, was all he said, smirking.

‘Don’t be afraid, I know you're looking for Jesus. But He’s not here, … He's gone—risen. See for yourself.’ (Matthew 28:6)

No lamp was necessary. His clothing gleamed (Matthew 28:3) in the early morning light.

Sure enough the ledge, where His body was laid on Friday evening, was bare, except of the grave clothes. They lay there as if undisturbed. The head-piece had been neatly folded—How very strange—how tidy. (John 20:7)

‘Go and tell his disciples … Peter too, to return to the Galilee. He’ll catch up with them there.’ (Mark 16:7)

With that he disappeared!

My companions, fled in shock and unbelief. (Mark 16:8). Who would do such a cruel thing. ?

I lingered. Was this true?

Did you take His body?

Frustration, fear and frantic desperation overwhelmed me as I peered once more into the darkness of that empty tomb. Tears started as a trickle, the trickle to a torrent.

‘Sweet heart, why are you crying? Who are you looking for?’ (John 20:15)

Heaving with fear and frustration I turned, sensing someone there … the gardener starting his day early.

‘Sir, if you’ve carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.’ (John 20:14-15)

‘Mary’, that was my pet name, and only one person said it like that; ‘Mary’. I recognised His voice.

‘Rabboni’ (John 20:16)

It was true … everything he said was true. Why was I looking for the living among the dead?

He really was risen!

He had risen just as he said!

Happy Easter Sunday everyone!

What did this remind you of?

  • Today's story has been taken from the Gospels.

  • Today is Easter Sunday.

  • Today is a time to celebrate.

  • Today take time to read through story again and let’s God’s Holy Spirit unleash your imagination.

  • Today read between the lines and ask the question; What would I have done?

  • Where did it take you?

Over to You!

I welcome any comments you may wish to share below.

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