The sergeant has instructed me to cover the night shift at a grave in the garden of Gethsemane, and I am not really looking forward to it. There are so many rumours around this particular dead body, and I don’t want anything to do with it, but I have to do my job and carry out my duty.
Yesterday the corpse of this infamous Galilean preacher was committed into a private grave, owned by a well-to-do man called Joseph of Aremethea, who allowed it to be used, because there was no other. The so-called friends of this preacher had made no provision for their leader in any way, in fact they are nowhere to be found.
I got a glimpse of the body, as I left work at the cross, and it was unrecognizable as a human being. How could anyone be subjected to such a battering? What on earth had he done? I hurried away, as I felt an uneasy sense of responsibility, which I refuse to entertain.
They wrapped the body loosely and draped a piece of cloth around the face, because they were in a rush to shut the grave before the Sabbath started. Only Joseph was there and a group of women, who I also noticed watching him die from a distance. I felt sorry for them, as they looked like people without hope.
It is cold out here in the darkness of the night and there is only a flame from a torch to break the gloom. I just have to stand here all night, awake, as the government are afraid that there will be some illegal activity or trespass on this site. They are feeling rather paranoid, as they suspect a plot to steal the body and spread wild stories about a resurrection, which could seriously damage their political status and cause social unrest.
The Sabbath is over now, so I must be extra vigilant. Maybe the sergeant will let me off for five minutes, to have a quick cigarette. I can’t seem to thrown off the growing feeling of gloom that has crept into my mind, and my hands have become shaky.
That’s all I remember. I woke up in the darkness with the flame torches extinguished on the ground. My mates were all out of it and lying on the earth, just as they fell. I glanced sideways at the enormous stone, as I could see a glow of light, the only light in the whole landscape, which frightened me, because the grave was now open for anyone to walk into, or out of.
My body froze with fear and that feeling of dread had now taken hold of my mind, yet I couldn’t take my eyes off the scene. As I watched in wonder, a gleaming being came out of the tomb and sat on the stone, lain flat on the ground at the entrance of the cave. I couldn’t keep my eyes of it. What was it? Is this what people call an angel?
Something had to happen, but I couldn’t imagine what. As I gazed in fear and amazement, a man came out from the tomb, not torn and battered as I had seen going in, but whole, radiant, like a conqueror. I could see scars on his feet and his face was still marred with the thorns that had been pushed into his head with such hate. How would he feel about me? I caused his pain…
I do not know what he did, but I felt my heart change from fear to longing, from emptiness to peacefulness and I wanted to speak with him. He came across the soil to where I lay in my horror and self-loathing, reached down and touched my shoulder and spoke my name. I called him Lord, as there was no other name available to me.
They tried to keep me quiet, but I refused. I am not known for my bravery, but these days I stand up straight and speak of what I saw and what happened to me. I suppose you could say I am now a follower. They told me he had gone back to heaven, to be alive forever, and would come back again for all who love him and have trusted in what he has done. I know that is true because he spoke to me and I believe him.