A Contemporary Rendering of John 20:1-18 & 26-29
Heat. There is sand everywhere. Particles of sand cling to her body, irritating her face. She is short. She has long black hair, and a deep olive complexion. Wearing leather sandles, she walks over hot soft sand that gets between her toes. She approaches the cave that is his tomb. The large stone is moved to the left of the tomb. It should not be there. Something is wrong.
Her pulse races. She runs. She is so exhausted, but keeps running anyway.
Finally, she stops, gasping for breath. She gulps in hot air, trying to calm herself, and to slow her pulse. She knocks on a wooden door. Peter opens it. He is short, and also has deep olive skin. He is very thin, but has muscular arms. He is a fisherman and used to heavy work.
“Mary, what’s wrong?” he asks in a deep voice. He looks concerned.
“They’ve taken his body. They stole his body from the tomb.”
They hurry to find John, who is sitting in sand near the shore line. He is roasting a fish on a branch over crackling fire. He is a large man, and has piercing brown eyes.
“You better come with us,” Peter yells at John. “They have stolen our Rabbi’s body.”
The three of them run, as sand blows against their moist bodies. A sand-storm is beginning. The early morning desert seems to glow with surreal red and gold hues.
As they run, Mary cries, picturing Jesus nailed to a cross and dying. How could anyone do that to another human being?
As Peter and John enter the tomb, Mary stays outside the rocky cave crying. Her body shakes almost violently, seeing Jesus’ anguished face on a cross. She folds her arms, grabbing herself tightly as she cries. Tiny spasms dart through her body. Her muscles are inflamed from a lack of sleep. She cries so hard that she cannot stop. Salty tears irritate her face, as sand cakes on her face. She wipes some of it away from her eyes with her hands. Her vision is blurry. She tries to stop crying.
Mary approaches the cave, and bending over, heads inside. She hears a child-like voice from behind her, but she does not understand what the voice says, as though it is in another language. She sees two purple-blue lights. Her eyes are playing tricks on her.
“Why are you crying?” she hears someone ask. She rubs her eyes again, and all she can see are the two lights.
She answers. Her voice is shaky.
“They have taken my Rabbi’s body, and I don’t even know where it is.”
She can now see the man she is speaking with. He seems gentle. He takes a step toward her. It is the gardener. He will know where the body is.
“If you took him, tell me where he is. We can take the body.”
He answers in a familiar voice.
It is Him.
She approaches Him. He shifts his weight to avoid her embrace.
“Mary, don’t touch me. I haven’t yet been raised to my God – to your God. It isn’t safe to touch me.”
Jesus’ image fades. She shivers. She is no longer tired. She is filled with waves of energy and something indescribable. She has been touched by something supernatural.
“I saw Him!” she yells to the other two.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
A week later, the disciples speak in hushed tones. The door is locked, but it is not safe. Stagnant heavy heat fills the space. They talk to break the tension.
Slowly, a blue light fills the small space. Jesus walks through the thick wood door, illuminated by an unworldly violet light. The room is now silent. Some of the men look as though they are in shock.
“Peace to all of you,” he says, slowly.
He shows them his wounds. There are jagged holes in his wrists. There is a large gash on his right side. He looks at Thomas, a tall thin wiry man.
Jesus lifts a thin coat of violet light.
“Thomas, put your hand in my side – right inside this wound.”
He does. He feels Jesus’ warm flesh. He looks at the holes in his wrists. People do not survive these kinds of wounds. He is in shock and almost falls over.
Jesus nods. “Those who believe without seeing are especially blessed. Hear, O Israel, and hear all of my people, the Lord is God, and the Lord is One.”
Jesus’ body fades. The room glows brighter with a calming blue light. A cool breeze fills the space.
Rick Davis lives in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois, USA., with his wife. He is a graduate of Northeastern Illinois University, and has completed graduate work at several schools. He has worked in market research, and in several customer service positions