The knock at the door was a defeated plea and was focused inward so as not draw the attention of curious ears.
One of the students stood – his emotions as erratic as the syncopated beat of his heart. With sweaty hands he raised the locking bar and allowed a stealthy entrance to the last of the followers, that is, all but the doubtful one.
That Jesus was totally dead was clear. But neither what he had done to deserve his death, nor whether any of his disciples would share his fate was yet clear –the randomness of the whole thing seemed likely to expand exponentially until no one who had followed this radical would utter another prayer.
Then came another knock.
“Perhaps,” suggested one of the disciples, it was “Thomas ‘the doubtful one’.”
No, this knock was someone who had long abandoned doubt. It was bold and held no regard for the fear which imprisoned these men. This was the knock of someone who had engaged certainty.
The bolt was again removed 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! I have only joy to tell! “I’ve seen The Teacher! He’s alive! He’s alive!”
One of the disciples stretched an open palm upon her lips while another rested his chin on the window sill, certain this raving woman had been followed.
Still, another disciple 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 then asked me, ‘Why are you weeping?’”
Then, someone else entered the room – yet not through the locked door or open windows, but through a spiritual kind of portal. The faces of those in the room warmed, while their spines chilled.
“Don’t be afraid. Peace. I bring peace.”
It was the same message the angels announced at his birth.
Now he had entered this erratic enclave of the terrified and added 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. It was the face of someone who knew that he’d been betrayed. It was the face of someone being 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 laughed. It was the face of someone who had been transported by love. It was the face of someone who had overcome death.
Then, as if the scale that measured bizarre wasn’t tipped enough, he began to talk about forgiveness. Forgiveness! Forgiveness for those who had robbed their teacher of his life by crucifying him between a couple of real robbers?
Now, he was asking the divine from them. Walking on water or feeding the masses with a few loaves seemed like child’s play compared to what he was now asking.
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 he breathed into them a kind of holy wind or spirit.
Now all things would seem possible. Now everything he’d said about moving mountains, everything he’d said about offering your enemy your other cheek and everything he’d said about finding a heavenly kingdom all seemed possible.
For He who was dead, is now alive!