The following short gospel, which was etched upon a parchment scroll and placed in a clay vase, was recently unearthed in a cave on the outskirts of Jerusalem. It was apparently written by an unnamed Roman soldier who was patrolling the area around 33 A.D., around the time of Passover, just after the Sabbath, on the first day of the week, just around sunrise ... Jerusalem time.
1. It was early on the morning after the Sabbath. I was on patrol, walking my beat down along Burial Ground Hill, near the tombs belonging to the family of Joseph of Arimathea, when I noticed a woman by the name of Mary Magdalene running toward me.
2. She seemed rather distraught and claimed that she had just visited the grave of one Jesus of Nazareth - to anoint his body with oils - when she discovered the tomb empty.
3. I investigated her claim, and did indeed discover the grave to be empty, save for some linens left there upon the hewn rock.
4. I then brought Ms. Magdalene downtown to the station to give official testimony, and then began my investigation by calling in four witnesses.
1. First I interrogated a fellow named Matthew, a former tax collector who had arrived in Jerusalem with this Jesus fellow to celebrate Passover.
2. After listing all of Jesus' ancestors, and who begot whom all the way back to the time of King David, Matthew finally arrived at the events of that morning after the Sabbath.
3. What follows in quotes is his testimony; my comments are in bold and in parentheses:
4. "And in the end of the Sabbath, when it began to dawn towards the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, to see the sepulcher." (Now we're getting somewhere, there were two Marys present that morning!)
5. "And behold, there was a great earthquake. For an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and coming, rolled back the stone, and sat upon." (Ah, so an angel was involved!)
6. "And his countenance was as lightning, and his raiment as snow. And for fear of him, the guards were struck with terror, and became as dead men." (You mean to tell me this one angel killed a number of highly trained Roman guards! I find that hard to believe.)
7. "And the angel answering, said to the women: Fear not you; for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here ..." (Good grief, the angel kidnapped him!)
1. Next I interrogated a man named Mark, who though he was not present had heard the story from a friend of Jesus' named Peter, a/k/a "The Rock."
2. "And when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, brought sweet spices, that coming, they might anoint Jesus. (So, there was a third woman present!)
3. "And very early in the morning, the first day of the week, they came to the sepulcher, the sun being now risen." (Yes, yes, we have determined it was early in the morning on the first day of the week.)
4. "And they said one to another: Who shall roll us back the stone from the door of the sepulcher? And looking, they saw the stone rolled back. For it was very great. And entering into the sepulcher, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a white robe: and they were astonished." (A young man? Matthew had said it was an angel!)
5. "Who saith to them: Be not affrighted; you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified: he is risen, he is not here ..." (How can you trust anyone who says things like "saith" and "affrighted"?)
1. My next interview was with a fellow named Luke, who though he never met Jesus of Nazareth, received his information from Paul, a/k/a Saul ... who, come to think of it, also never met this Jesus ... which means it's all hearsay ... which means it will never hold up in court! Nevertheless, his testimony follows:
2. "And on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came to the sepulcher, bringing spices which they had prepared." (Yes, yes, first day of the week, early in the morning, sepulcher, spices - I've heard all this before.)
3. "And they found the stone rolled back from the sepulcher." (Yes, yes, stone rolled back, yes, get on with it!)
4. "And going in, they found not the body of the Lord Jesus." (Yes, yes...)
5. "And it came to pass, as they were astonished in their mind at this, behold, two men stood by them, in shining apparel." (Two men?! Now we're getting somewhere!)
6. "And as they were afraid, and bowed down their countenance towards the ground, they said unto them: Why seek you the living with the dead?" (Hmmm ... the living with the dead ... hmmm, seems like there's a clue in there somewhere.)
7. "He is not here ..." (Yes, yes, we know he is not there! But where is he?!)
1. My final interview was with a fellow named John, a/k/a "The Beloved," who was an associate of Jesus and was nearby when he was crucified. Finally, a credible witness!
2. Here is his testimony:
3. "And on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene cometh early, when it was dark, unto the sepulcher, and she saw the stone taken away from the sepulcher." (Hmmm, earlier testimony stated that Mary was not alone and that the sun was up. Someone is not telling the truth.)
4. "She ran, therefore, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and saith to them: They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulcher, and we know not where they have laid him." (Who is this "other disciple"? I need names!)
5. "Peter therefore went out, and that other disciple, and they came to the sepulcher. And they both ran together, and that other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulcher. Then cometh Simon Peter, following him, and went into the sepulcher ... Then that other disciple also went in, who came first to the sepulcher." (Yes, yes, I get it, the "other disciple" won the footrace with Peter to the sepulcher, but what happened next?!)
6. "The disciples therefore departed again to their home." (Oh, great, a dead end!)
7. "But Mary stood at the sepulcher ... and she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet where the body of Jesus had been laid." (Two angels! Now we're on to something!)
8. "They said to her: Woman, why weepest thou? She saith to them: Because they have taken away my Lord; and I know not where they have laid him."
9. "When she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and she knew not that it was Jesus."
10. "Jesus saith to her: Woman, why weepest thou? Whom seekest thou?"
11. "She thinking that it was the gardener, said to him: Sir, if thou hast taken him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away." (I've got it! It was the gardener! The gardener did it!! Quick, issue a warrant for the gardener's arrest!!!)
For a much better account of the resurrection, you may wish to consult the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Oh, and have a Happy Easter.
Jack Sheedy (the Lesser)