They came at me in a pack, falling all over themselves to tell me something.
They said Jesus was alive.
Not just that His body was missing, and a story of even more weight than what we'd been told by one of the women about seeing Him.
I am analytical by nature and interested in details, and this jumbled mess of a story coming at me from several men jostling for position was just not making much sense.
When some kind of order was established (probably by Simon--er, make that Peter), the account came together.
They had all gathered, to gain strength from each other and to share their sorrow over the recent events. Jesus had allowed Himself to be arrested, and had been tried in several sham sessions, convicted, condemned. He had been beaten terribly, and then...
I can hardly even bring myself to say that despised word. Crucified. Even the bloodthirsty Romans reserved that penalty for only the worst of the worst. Jesus did not deserve that treatment!
I know I wasn't the only one who was shocked that this 'kingdom' He always spoke of didn't come into being at some point during that awful night and hideous day following. Given what we had seen Him do, I was so sure... Through those hours I waited for the greatest miracle of all--some kind of amazing burst of power and His sovereignty over all would be revealed: He would show THE WORLD exactly who He was, finally, and reveal His father to us, and...
But no. He died. He had healed the blind, deaf, and lame, and had restored others to life from death, but He died. My mind reeled with the idea that it was even possible, and the foundation on which I'd built my life over the last three years was shaken.
Crumbling pretty badly, actually. That's why I wasn't there when they gathered. My grief over the loss of a friend was very nearly more than I could bear, but the uncertainty weaving its way through my soul was somehow worse. How could we carry the 'good news' to the world about a man who...
I hate myself for thinking this...
...about a man who was just a man, after all?
Had we all been duped by the miracles? Was He only a clever speaker and performer of amazing tricks, and nothing more?
Was Judas right to do what he did?
Clearly, I didn't belong at any gathering of these men who had been as close as brothers to me for these past few years. Was I the only one with misgivings?
And now, these 'brothers' of mine were all happy to the point of giddiness--grown men! Their story continued: they had gathered, and I wasn't there. The doors were locked, because no one knew if Jesus would be the only one arrested, or if He was simply the first of our number to go...
And He appeared. His opening words were "Peace be with you!," and several of the tellers of the tale agreed that they were glad to hear that first--their hearts and minds were anything but at rest in that moment. He had shown them His hands and side, and they were all overjoyed.
Filled with joy, stuffed with it, overflowing with it, clearly. Their joy at this wonderful confirmation of His resurrection was obvious, even some time later.
I really didn't know what to think.
They weren't kidding with me, not about this, absolutely not.
Was it an illusion?
Why couldn't I have been there? I was so confused, and I needed proof! So I blurted out, "Unless I see the nail marks in His hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe it."
I've lived with that remark for nearly a week now, and I'm still included in the group, present at another locked-door gathering.
There He is.
"Peace be with you!"
Am I breathing? Am I living? Is this heaven? All other thought and sensation has dropped away, and I now know the emotion the others were trying to express. Hallelujah! He IS risen.
He tells me to touch His hand and His side and stop doubting and believe.
Another uncontrollable utterance, this time one with no shame: "My Lord and my God!"
Yes, the doubts are gone forever, and peace is with me, permanent peace.