From an Easter sermon by Adam Greenwood
Then Pilate has Jesus whipped.
They make fun of him. They dress him up like a fake king with a crown made from a thorn bush. They blindfold him and punch him and tell him to prophesy who it was.
They march him out to an empty lot by a busy intersection where they like to perform executions in public. They execute him and two criminals.
He is dead.
You had still been hoping just a little. But now he’s meat. You feel horrified and betrayed. You also feel afraid. What if they come after the people who cheered him next?
You flee home to hide. All the next day you hide there. It all came to nothing. Gloom. Hopelessness. Misery.
The day after is Easter.
You hear a knock on your door. You are scared. You peek out. Remember your mother that died? You hallucinate that its her.
The hallucination speaks in your mother’s voice. “It’s me. I’m alive. Touch me” She is shining and beautiful. She comes in and it really is her.
She hugs you. She hugs your children. She tells you that she loves you. She says that Jesus has come back to life because he is stronger than death. She says he brought back many of his followers with him. She is radiating happiness. She tells you that death is not the end for anybody. She tells you that you will all be together again.
When she leaves, you are crying. You feel like your heart will break with joy.
You rush out to share the news. You aren’t the only one. Other people have seen their loved ones. My husband, one says. My wife. My child. My father. My mother. It is so wonderful.
Jesus’ closest friends and associates even say they saw him. There is amazement and awe. There is a feeling of something sacred.
And his friends tell you something else. He made the dead alive again, they say, but he will also make the sinner pure. He will make the broke man whole and the weak man strong. It is certain.
You see those friends change. You weren’t impressed with them before. They were just like you. Now you see them rebuke kings and leaders.
You receive your own witness.
You also believe.
Years ago my family an unforgettable conversation with some Jehovah's Witnesses about the verse you quote in the title. JW's believe that no one will be resurrected until the Second Coming, and that between death and resurrection people do not exist at all -- so they explained this verse as meaning that the graves were literally opened (by the earthquake which occurred at the crucifixion) and that dead bodies of saints rolled out of their graves and into Jerusalem, where they (the dead bodies) "appeared unto many"!
(Needless to say, I much prefer Adam's interpretation.)
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