It is the story commemorated at the advent of spring every year by Christians around the world. And in the fond retelling of the story, the faith is renewed.
After suffering silently at the hands of his captors, Jesus Christ had been crucified on Black Friday at the Rock of Calvary outside Jerusalem. Joseph of Arimathea had Christ’s body placed in his own tomb. A large stone covered the entrance which the soldiers guarded.
On the third day, several women went to the tomb early at dawn to anoint the body of Christ with spices they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them.
In their fright, the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ”
Then they remembered his words. When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven Apostles and to all the others. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. Peter however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.
But the same day, Christ appeared to two men on the road to the village Emmaus. The men did not recognize him, but knew what had happened at the Rock of Calvary and later at the sealed tomb. Christ then spoke to them from the Scriptures of Moses and all the Prophets, and of the Messiah who had to ‘suffer these things and then enter his glory’.
It was only when he was at the table with them at night, breaking bread thanking them, that the men’s eyes were opened and they recognized him. But Christ disappeared from their sight, and they asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” So they returned at once to Jerusalem, where they found the Eleven and others, telling them what had happened.
While they were still talking about this, Christ himself stood among them and said: “Peace be with you.” The disciples were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. But he reassured them, asking them why they were troubled and full of doubts. He then told them to look at him, to touch him and see for themselves. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence.
Then Christ opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his me to all tions, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
Leading out his disciples to the vicinity of Bethany, Christ then lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.
Can a man be raised from the dead? It may be difficult to understand the true significance of the resurrection of Christ. We are told that reason will only take us so far, that we have to rely thereafter upon our faith to move ahead. And life throws up situations again and again when we need to look deep into our hearts with faith and search for answers.
When someone we look up to, someone we love greatly, someone who holds us and shows the way, departs for ever — what do we do? We may be left inconsolable and utterly bereft as the black hole of loss consumes us. But slowly we may feel with our hearts a different reality which reason cannot explain, but which begins to draw us forward.
The disciples and followers of Christ were thrown into the deepest abyss of despair on Black Friday. And on the third day, their hearts were filled with a divine light impossible to extinguish. It gave Christian martyrs the fearlessness to face persecution with forgiveness in their hearts and the Lord’s prayer on their lips. For beyond death and the physical realm, the Kingdom of Heaven had begun to shine before them.
— the harbinger