By Dr. Kenneth Cuffey, President and Professor of Biblical Studies
This week’s blog is a first person imaginative re-creation of the events of the first Easter Sunday morning, told from the perspective of a woman who was part of the circle of Jesus’ followers. On this Sunday morning, she accompanied Mary, the wife of Clopas, on the journey into town and to the Garden. Happy Easter! Jesus is risen!
Friday was such a horrible memory . . . couldn’t it be blotted out? Our dear beloved rabbi, executed as a criminal, the gore and the agonizing pain of a cross. All our dreams and hopes dashed. The Sabbath was a nightmare, spent sobbing at John’s house in the city. Some of our group had distanced themselves safely away from the city in Bethany on the other side of the Mount of Olives. Mary and I had waited until sundown of Sabbath to walk the short distance over the Kidron Valley and up the hillside to join them. Her husband Clopas was sheltered here too.
Today a new week began, the promise of going on with life holding no allure for any of us, all defeated followers of the Rabbi. Nothing softened the sharp pangs of loss. Who’d slept anyway? A night of uneasy half-sleep had been spent listening for the first cock crowing to rouse us for the sad task at hand. Now the two of us were up and hastily on the road back to the city to complete the customary anointing of Jesus’ body.
Our small band stepped quietly out the door of the modest house in Bethany, a hill and valley away from Jerusalem. The journey felt like such a burden, carrying what was needed to prepare my beloved master’s corpse for saying a final goodbye at the tomb. Years, and so much had changed, because I’d been with him . . . but now it was all back to nothing, life seemed quiet, despairing, empty.
It was a spring morning. I could feel the cool early morning air as the first streaks of dawn began to light up the eastern sky. All was quiet still on the road as Mary and I trudged slowly down into the Kidron Valley, and back up again into the city. We passed through a city gate, stopped by John’s house, and wound our way through the streets of early morning Jerusalem. The streets were still quiet—only the first stirrings of a few early risers while most rested on. I could feel the tension rising inside as my steps kept on up the rise in the ground approaching the gate into the burial place.
We walked briskly through the stone arches, as I wiped away a bitter tear and averted my gaze down to the ground and away from the stakes of the wooden crosses still in the ground, standing empty now. Empty crosses—there to evoke all the raw pain yet afresh. Wooden poles—standing for the violent end of cherished dreams of the future.
I nervously stepped up the rise and looked down the narrow pathway leading to the tomb in the green garden. My hope was that the gardener would be there already to help us. There’s no chance we could roll that huge stone aside from the entrance. My muscles tensed, my heart raced.
No! Nothing more on top of all we’ve hurt through. The big rock is rolled aside! What? Is the body alright? But we left everyone else behind, so no one could have gotten here ahead of us. Who’s been here? Now running, head throbbing, no idea what this may signify . . . there’s nothing there. Peering in the door. There’s no body at all!? No body anymore?? Wait, who’s that? I’m not sure. An intruder? The gardener? In a white robe? Wait, saying something. Urgent words, powerful voice.
“Don’t be alarmed. You’re looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”