All is darkness. Was Jesus sentient at all on the Sabbath? It is a disquieting association –Sabbath rest with death, yet on this seventh day, Jesus rested. At what point did resurrection occur? We know when the followers experienced it, but when did it begin? When did the pneuma — the breath, the Spirit, the essence — return? When did awareness dawn? When did Jesus come back to himself, and begin the return journey? What passed through his consciousness? The gospels give some glimpses. I believe there were two things Jesus hoped against hope would NOT happen, though he was fairly certain they would. First, I believe Jesus hoped he would not find anyone gathered at the tomb to prepare him for burial. No stronger evidence is possible that they did not understand or believe in him (though they loved him). The second hope would be that his followers and friends (and family) would not be in hiding, but that they would be preparing for his return. As unlikely as this would be, I think Jesus wished with all his heart and soul that someone — anyone — would live in the assurance of his return. As I say, hope against hope.
In the darkness, in the stillness, nothing but time. Was Jesus immediately healed, transcending his woundedness and the violence done to his body? Gospel reports indicate scars and physical evidence of the wounds suffered, but when did the pain depart. I imagine that the emotional pain lingered long after the physical pain. Think how it feels to be misunderstood, to be attacked, to be vilified, insulted, abused, mocked. Most of us do not know the indignity of being spat upon, taunted, bullied physically — not by an individual but by an entire mob. Jesus uttered words of forgiveness — did he struggle to feel such forgiveness as he returned to consciousness?
What next? This is the question that I think overwhelmed all others. As I speculate on the very human side of Jesus’ psyche, I can’t help but believe these things went through his mind:
- I can’t wait to see the look on their faces!
- Who will be happiest to see me?
- I wonder who I will see first?
- I wonder how the disciples will react?
- I wonder how the religious officials will react?
- I wonder how Rome will respond?
- I wonder if they will try to kill me again?
- I wonder who will listen?
- I wonder what people will do — will they be attracted or repelled?
- What will happen to my family?
- I should hide, then jump out and yell, “BOO!” (or appear and disappear at will — think Emmaus)
Resurrection was/is the ultimate paradigm shift. All bets are off; indeed, all things are made new. In the dark hours of the tomb, I think Jesus had time to plot and plan and prepare. The critical hours would be those immediately following the revelation that the tomb was empty. Controlling the story, making sure it couldn’t be dismissed or covered up. Timing was everything.
We wake up on Easter morning hoping the Easter Bunny visited and left us chocolates. What a meager hope when compared with the shock and surprise that the one true Son of God returned from the grave? Timing. Waiting. Anticipation. Hope. In mere hours, the world will awaken to a new day — and the world will never be the same…