Look at their faces.
Can you feel it?
Hope so recently, so cruelly pummeled into the dirt, buried and sealed tightly along with the corpse of a once-trusted man…does this Hope dare rise again?
Perhaps…God help us, perhaps…but only if He rose.
Could it be true?
Hope twitches, and I cringe. Some dead things are best allowed to lie still. Death is numb, and numbness is what I need…what we all need right now.
Few things cause more agony in their dying than Hope Betrayed. If it arises, only to die again, the torture will be more than our souls can bear.
Hush now, Hope. Be still. The women must be mad, driven to this delusion by the stirrings of their own Hopes. Don’t believe them. It can’t be true. The dead don’t rise.
We look at one another, Peter and I. Our salt-encrusted cheeks have felt more tears than grown men should ever cry, and yet we have not stopped. We cannot stop.
Jesus. Our Jesus. Dead. Gone.
A deceiver. Or at best, a deluded man. And what are we, that we followed Him?
And Peter…poor Peter. His eyes hold more hollow grief than mine, I think. I wouldn’t dream of mentioning it to him, but of course I know. We all know.
“I do not know the man!” He swore it. And those words will haunt him to his grave.
Did any of us know Him, really? After all, we thought…we believed…
Dare we believe again?
My heart quickens, and I jump to my feet. “Peter, we must…”
I can’t finish the sentence. I want him to think that it’s all about someone stealing the body, but it’s more than that to me. I know it’s madness. I don’t want to hear my own voice affirming this hopeless Hope, especially if it means awakening that cruel trickster in the heart of poor Peter.
And yet I can’t sit back down. I don’t know any more if we must go to the tomb. But I know that I must. At least if I go, and I find the tomb undisturbed, I’ll be able to kill Hope for good.
And if I find it empty…
No, I can’t think about that. Because even if it’s empty, it may only be teasing me. Someone could have taken His body, and we might never know…
I shudder. Hope Betrayed is horrible, but could anything be worse than a lifetime of Hope Tantalized?
Dear God, why are You doing this to us? Did we sin against You by believing in this Man?
I believed. More than believed. I loved…
Peter’s haunted eyes finally look back up to mine. And what he sees there makes some of his old spark return.
“Yes,” he nods. “We must.”
Our feet start slowly, but soon pick up the pace. Love pulls. It hopes, even when hope is folly.
We don’t speak to one another, Peter and I. There’s no point. Either we’re two friends looking for another friend’s body, or we’re two fools on a fools’ errand. What needs to be said?
We loved Him. He deserves no less than one last, wild offering of our hope. If that makes us fools, then fools we will be.
Men have been fools for less.
By now we’re running, and I can’t help wondering if Peter is daring to entertain the same insane hope that I’m feeling.
Hush, Hope. Be still…
We round that last familiar curve and stop in our tracks. The tomb stands open, and the guards are gone.
Peter remains fixed in his place, but I am driven to go in. I see the grave clothes, still wrapped, but with no body inside of them.
And then I see the handkerchief that had been wrapped around His head. It’s not with the rest of the grave clothes. No, it’s lying, neatly folded, off to one side.
In my heart’s eye I see Him. Oh, so typical! He did all things well, whether it was neatly folding His cloak before laying it aside, or healing the sick, or washing our feet, or raising the dead…
I drop to my knees. Raising the dead!
I see Peter now standing beside me, and I no longer care to hide my Hope, even from him. I am laughing and crying all at once; hope and joy and faith and love all hammering in my chest until I can only sob.
I can’t prove it, but I know. Love knows.
He lives, He lives, HE LIVES!
Thank you to Ann Voskamp of Holy Experience for introducing me to this wonderful painting. It helped bring out the words I needed to say today, and I hope they were a blessing to my readers as well.