Chapter Fifteen

                           EASTER SUNDAY

       Jesus was dead and buried. His body had been lain in the tomb of
Joseph of Arimathea on Friday afternood preceeding sundown of the Sab-
bath. As far as the Sadducees and the Romans were concerned, he was some
one whom they could forget about as they continued to roundup other
suspected insurrectionist rebels. Sabbath passed without much note. It was
a sad Sabbath indeed for those disciples who had followed Jesus and
believed in him as the redeemer of Israel, and who had expected the Age of
Glory to begin that Passover holiday. And it was with a sad heart that the
following day, just after dawn, on the first day of the week, that his
disciple Mary of Magdala, and Mary her companion (called the mother of
James and Joses), and the wife of Zebedee, came to the tomb with the
intention of anointing Jesus' body. They knew that the entrance to the tomb
had been sealed by a rock and that most probably a guard had been stationed
nearby to prevent the body from being stollen, and they were probably
prepared to bribe the guard to open the tomb and let them enter to
administer what is known in Hebrew as a TAHARAH, a purification of the
body, which is considered as one of the greatest kindnesses that the living
can do to the deceased. However, at their approach they found to their
surprise that the stone already had been rolled away from the entrance, and
upon entering they found the tomb empty.

       Their first reaction must have been one of anger at the thought that
the body of their holy master had been removed, either by the heathen or by
the Sadducees, and desecrated. But if something like that had been done,
even by night, word would have surely gotten around, and as far as anyone
knew, that had NOT happened. Not knowing what to do, they returned to the
disciples who were still remaining in the City. Most of the disciples
however had not waited till the end of the holiday but had departed for
Galilee, their hopes and dreams shattered by the death of their master.

       Ascertaining that there was nothing further to do in Jerusalem, and
probably also fearing possible disclosure and arrest, the body of disciples
departed the Holy City and returned to the north.

       There the word spread of the disappearence of Jesus' body. This was
followed by the assuraqnce that thorough inquiry had been made both
reagarding the Sadducees and the Romans, and that there had been no wit-
ness whatsoever that Jesus' body had been illegally removed from its tomb.
Certainly the Sadducees would never under any circumstances have done such
a thing. No Jew would touch a dead body for fear of ritual contamination.
This is especially true regarding priests who would be rendered unfit for
Temple service as a result of TUMAT-MET, ritual uncleaness resulting from
physical contact with the dead. Since the Saducees were of the priestly
caste it was inconceivable that they would do such a thing. If the body had
been tampered with at all it would have to have been at the instigation of
the gentile authorities. But what motivation would they have for so doing?
There had been other rebel martyrs before Jesus and there were no reports
that any of them had been removed after interrment by the Romans. LIVE
Jewish insurrectionists were a threat to Rome, NOT dead ones. Add to this
the detail that the Sadducees themselves spread the report that the
disciples were the ones who had stollen Jesus' body from the tomb,
something that they vehemently denied, and also as Jews fearing ritual
defilement would not do.

       Shortly the idea began to form in the mind of the disciples that
there was no other explanation than that the master was not truly dead. But
how could this be so? Several disciples had been present at the cruci-
fixion and had seen him expire. It was known that Joseph had himself
interred Jesus in the tomb so he must have died. Yet his body was not to be
found. Now something novel occured which had not occured with any other Jew
believed to have been the messiah, not even with the Baptist. The
conception that indeed although they had seen Jesus die with their own
eyes, that somehow PRESENTLY HE WAS ALIVE AGAIN!

       The disciples had been with him for three years during which time
thet had seen him perform many miracles. Yes, even the raising of one
believed dead. Had not even Elijah and Elisha, prophets of old, raised the
dead? (I Kings 17:21;II Kings 4:35) How much more so one who was the
GREATEST of prophets, the messiah himself!

       The question now remaining was "why"?  Why the humiliation of the
failure of the insurrection? Why the disgrace of the arrest and passion of
their master? And most of all, why the need of his death? They and their
fathers had been taught for centuries that the messiah cannot fail; he
cannot be defeated by the heathen. Yes, there is a tradition in Judaism of
a dying messiah, the so-called Messiah ben Joseph, but it is not certain
how widespread this tradition was at the time that Jesus lived. Even so,
there is no tradition that Messiah ben Joseph is to be resurrected. He
dies, in fact, to prepare the way for Messiah ben David.

       But it did not take long for a rationale to form, in the minds of
the disciples, for the death and subsequent resurrection of their master.
If indeed the messiah was to overcome the power of the kingdom of Arrogance
of the minions of Roman Satan, then G-d must allow him to display an even
GREATER power. What would be the greatest power of all for any human being
if not the power over death? IF G-d would allow his Anointed to be martyred
by the heathen and then show them that His messiah could overcome the worst
that they could do to him, then they would realize that they were indeed
powerless against the G-d of Israel and the days of their human kingdom

       All Israel knew that the coming of the messiah would bring about the
resurrection of the dead as its sign, as foretold by Daniel. The rising of
the dead would begin the Kingdom of G-d on earth. And how very appropriate
that G-d should raise his messiah as the first of the dead to rise! Surely
this was the sign that in the immediately com- ing present, just as he had
come to his people humbly riding on an ass, so would he now return in
power, with the clouds of heaven, an army of angels at his side, to
overthrow the wicked. (See Acts 1:6)

       The disciples remembered what Jesus had told them in Galilee be-
fore their fatefull journey to Jerusalem, that they might have to suffer
martrydom, along with him, for the sake of G-d's Kingdom. Yet now they
remembered it differently. He had said, not that THEY might suffer
martyrdom, but that HE SURELY WOULD SUFFER DEATH for the sake of Israel and
the Kingdom. Indeed soon they even managed to find Biblical support for
this belief.(Luke 24:25-27;45-46)

       Jesus and his Jewish followers had formed a close bond during the
years of his ministry. His charisma and the strength of his own faith had
enabled them to rise above the gloom of the ordinary world and to believe
that all their sacrifices, both as Jews and as his own particular flock,
would be rewarded shortly. Indeed he had inspired a deep love in them for
him and for each other by the strength of his own love for them. They were
the simple villagers of Galilee, downtrodden by the Romans. Yet they were
"the salt of the earth" and would "inherit the earth". And by that love
they refused to let him remain dead. Indeed by their love for him they
resurrected him in their hearts and minds and in due time caused many of
their fellow Jews to believe in him as the promised one of G-d who would
bring the Kingdom of Heaven "speedily and in our days" in the words of the
KADDISH prayer.

       In the days following the first Easter Sunday, there were reports of
various "sightings" of the master in Galilee. Many of these post-resurrec-
tion appearences were quite vivid in the minds of the followers and passed
into later Christian tradition as detailed stories of his appearing to
various disciples.

       It was reported that he had appeared to the chief disciples and told
them to return to Jerusalem, there to spread the word of his imminent
return, and there to await G-d's Kingdom.

       In the Holy City they took up their vigil in the very place that
formerly had represented failure to them. The place which was to have a
profound, if unacknowledged, influence on the future development of

     "they ... returned to Jerusalem with great joy: and were
      continually in the temple, praising and blessing G-d."
                      Luke 24:52-53

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