April 16, 2017: NCIS: Jerusalem Where’s the Body?

Posted on : Apr 13th, 2017 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

There is something odd in resurrection stories as told to us in the Bible.  Actually, there are a lot of things that are odd in those stories, but one of the oddities that runs through all four Gospels and the Book of Acts is the mystery surrounding the missing body of Christ.

In John’s gospel, which is the most familiar of the resurrection stories, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb where Jesus was buried and saw that the stone covering the entrance to the tomb was rolled away.  She ran to tell Peter and “the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved.”  Greatly distressed, she shouts: “They have taken the body of Jesus out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him!”  In other words, the body is missing!

The beloved disciple and Peter run to the tomb and experience exactly what Mary Magdalene told them.  The body was missing.  The burial cloths were there, and the linen napkin that was covering Jesus’ head was rolled up in a place by itself.  But no body.

We’re told the disciples went back to their homes, but Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb, she saw two angels in white.  The angels asked her “Why are you weeping?”  She responded, “because they have taken away my Jesus, and I do not know where they have laid him.” – an obvious reference to where they had taken Jesus’ body.

After saying this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know it was Jesus.  She assumed this person to be the gardener. [Facial recognition obviously doesn’t work here.]  So, she said to this person, “Sir, if you have carried Jesus away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”

Jesus called her by name, “Mary.” And she turned and responded in Hebrew, Rabbi! (which means Teacher).  [Ah, voice recognition does work!]

Jesus then tells her not to touch him, but to go and tell his friends that he will be ascending to God.

A similar story occurs in the Gospel of Luke.  On the evening of the Day of Resurrection (what we call Easter Day) Jesus appeared to two disciples on the road to a village called Emmaus.  As the disciples were talking with each other, with the intensity that we often do immediately following a national crisis, Jesus drew near to them and asked, “What are you talking about?”  Incredulously they responded, “Are you the only person in Jerusalem who doesn’t know what happened in these last three days?!!!!”

In great detail, this duo told Jesus about everything that happened, including this: “Moreover, some women of our company amazed us.  They were at the tomb early this morning and did not find Jesus’ body!”

There it is again:  the mystery of the missing body.  This mystery would make a perfect plot for the NCIS TV series.  In fact, there is enough mystery and intrigue in the Jerusalem story that they could easily develop an entire series, NCIS: Jerusalem.  However, the question of where the missing body of Jesus is isn’t easily answered. Archeologists have been looking for it for years, and never found it.  And so have many Christians!

Why do you suppose this mystery is so present in the stories about Jesus’ Resurrection?  And why do you suppose this question is never answered?  We’ll try and solve that mystery on Easter Day!

Easter Blessings to You and those you love,

Dan

~ This Sunday’s Scripture ~

John 20: 1-18

The risen Christ appears to Mary Magdalene.

Now, on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.  So she ran, and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the body of Jesus out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” 

Peter then came out with the other disciple, and they went toward the tomb.  They both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter, reached the tomb first, and stooping to look in, saw the linen cloths lying there, but did not go in. 

Then Simon Peter came, following after, and went into the tomb; Peter saw the linen cloths lying, and the napkin, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself.  Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and saw and believed; for as yet they did not know the scripture, that Jesus must rise from the dead. Then the disciples went back to their homes.

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet.  The angels said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”  She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Jesus, and I do not know where they have laid him.”  Saying this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know it was Jesus.  Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?”  Supposing Jesus to be the gardener, she answered, “Sir, if you have carried Jesus away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”  Jesus said to her, “Mary.”  She turned and responded in Hebrew, “Rabbi!” (which means Teacher).  Jesus said to her, “Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to God; but go to my friends and say to them, I am ascending to my God and your God.”  Mary Magdalene went and said to the disciples, “I have seen the Christ”; and she told them that Jesus had said these things to her.

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