By Norris Burkes Apr 1, 2018
The tapping on the door was more a defeated plea than a knock. The sound focused inward so as not to draw the attention of curious ears.
Inside, Jesus’ students had gathered, their emotions as erratic as their syncopated heartbeats. One follower stood and removed the locking bar, allowing a stealthy entrance to Peter, the denier.
Even though they hadn’t bothered to see for themselves, those who were hiding knew Jesus was dead. Yet still unclear was what he had done to deserve death, and whether they would share in his fate.
Then came another knock.
An undefeated knock. It was bold and held no regard for the fear that imprisoned these men. This was the knock of someone who had engaged certainty.
The bolt was again thrown, and the door gave way to the radiant assurance of Mary Magdalene.
What had emboldened this former prostitute? Her survival had once depended upon her discretion. Now her dramatic entry seemed to say in ways previously unsaid, “I have no secrets!” Only joy to tell.
“I’ve seen the Teacher!” she announced. “He’s alive! He’s alive!”
One of the students stretched an open palm across her lips while another perched his chin on the window sill to peek out, certain this raving woman had been followed.
Another openly wept at what seemed like the pathetic illusions of a grieving woman.
“No!” she commanded them, “don’t cry. The Teacher said we shouldn’t be crying and even asked me why I wept.”
Then someone else entered the room, not through the locked door or windows, but through a spiritual portal.
The followers froze, their faces warmed as their spines chilled. It was the Teacher!
“Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Peace. I bring peace.” It was the same message the angels announced at Jesus’ birth.
Now Jesus had returned to his erratic and terrified followers to add his own personal exclamation mark to the angelic message.
“Peace!” he said.
How could he ask them not to be afraid? They’d seen his face in those last hours — the face of someone who knew that he’d been betrayed. The face of someone consumed by the most fearful consequence imaginable — death.
Yet, now his face was different. The face staring at this pathetic bunch of so-called believers was the face of someone who had overcome death.
Then, as if the scale wasn’t tipped into the bizarre enough already, he spoke of forgiveness.
Forgiveness! Forgiveness for those who had robbed their teacher of his life by crucifying him between a couple of real robbers?
Jesus was asking them to become divine. Walking on water or feeding the masses with a few loaves seemed like child’s play compared to asking them to forgive their enemies.
How could they possibly measure up?
As they stood wondering, he drew a deep breath from somewhere other than his corporeal lungs — someplace god-like — and breathed upon them a kind of holy wind or spirit.
Things were different. Possible. Now everything Jesus had said about moving mountains, everything he’d said about offering both cheeks to your enemy and everything he’d said about finding a heavenly kingdom all seemed possible.
For he who was dead was alive!
Contact Norris Burkes at firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone 843-608-9715. Twitter @chaplain.