Monday, April 14, 2014

Faith Works 4-19-14

Faith Works 4-19-14

Jeff Gill


A story of no account



No one would consider the word of a single, unattached woman as being worthy of stature in a court case, or even in conversation.


Certainly, Mary of Migdal, the Magdalene, has an interesting story. But alone? Her? With her reputation? Come now.


Apparently there's testimony from not long after. Simon, the Galilean (don't laugh, yes, he's from the Galilee), now known for some reason as "Rocky" or Petros in Greek, this Simon Peter claims to support Mary Magdalene's word.


Come now, though . . . let's think about what's at stake here.


We have a single woman with the hint of prostitution hanging around her shoulders, making outlandish, unearthly claims. Then, at her instigation (I'm just repeating HER version of events), Simon the Petros come to the tomb of this Jesus to see what the evidence of the corpse has to say to him and his people.


A body which they now say is missing.


Supposedly, there are others involved. Some additional women with the "lady" from Migdal, a few other unemployed fishermen from Galilee straggling along with Simon to Petros. All of them as disreputable and questionable characters as are the instigators they follow.


They dig their own trap. With enough hangers-on, you can carry off a body and hide it in another valley, beyond the network of roads leading into the Holy City. Towards Bethany, or down past Ein Kerem.


To be fair, that doesn't explain the Roman guard set by Pilate. Perhaps they fell asleep, and waking up to find their task bungled, they fled rather than face the procurator's wrath. We should ask up at the Antonia if those soldiers have been accounted for, and get their tale. But if they are truly missing, that answers the question well enough for me.


Each time one of these revolutionaries goes missing, there's another furor, but it always dies down. How many have we seen from our perch here in the Sanhedrin? One after another, every third or fourth Passover, the anger and frustration of the people with Rome (and to be perfectly candid, with us) boils over, riots begin, fires are set, arrests are made, certain victims die horribly so that the population does not suffer generally, and everyone quiets down, goes back to work, and forgets.


Never mind you'd shouted that you'd die for that cause or a particular Barabbas or whomever along the dusty margin of a road, screaming your lungs out until a detachment of armored legionaries trots by high up on horseback. Your shout lasts no longer than an echo making its way into the wilderness, fading and forgotten before the minute, let alone an hour is over.


This group of believers seems a bit more persistent. They continue to shop their tale around the marketplace, and some of their number are heading back to Galilee where hapless old Philip can contend with stories in his district of a dying and risen Messiah. Soon enough the labors of fishing and mending and getting by will dull their enthusiasm and fog their memories, or they will latch onto yet another claimant for the throne of Herod.


If I thought a mentor of mine had died, especially died that way, it would cause me to rethink everything they'd taught me, and likely toss it all out of my mind before it contaminated the rest of my logic and learning. Of course, even if one of my wise and insightful teachers died at the hands of Roman justice, but then walked back into my study to face me, and challenge me, that would make me sit up and take notice. It's the kind of proof that would go beyond logic, beyond debate in the assembly or details of learned commentary. Rising from the dead, that would make a statement, it would indeed.


Which, I suppose, could explain the Jesus followers' strange behavior, if only . . . ah, well. Time will tell. Most such ideas have their day, and are forgotten in the night that follows. Let's see what a new sunrise brings.  What remains is what endures.


Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and pastor in Licking County. Tell him a tale at, or follow @Knapsack on Twitter.

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