Sunday, April 08, 2012
The shortest sentence in the Bible.
The Gospel of John recounts how early in the morning while it was still dark, on the "first day of the week" (i.e., Sunday), Mary Magdalene took a walk to see the cave where the Romans had allowed the wealthy Jew Joseph of Arimathea to deposit his body; and she saw that the giant stone which the Romans had put to block the cave entrance (in order to prevent the followers of Jesus from stealing the body and then claiming that some miracle had occurred) was gone.
Mary immediately ran back to tell Simon Peter as well as the "disciple whom Jesus loved" (whom scholars assume is John himself). Peter and John went there to see for themselves. They ran there, in fact, and John in his eagerness to see, outran Peter and arrived at the mouth of the cave first. He peered in, and saw the burial linen clothes lain, but no body. He did not venture in, however, perhaps out of timidity. Peter, a little bolder, went past him and entered, and saw on closer inspection the linen clothes and the napkin for the head folded and placed apart. John followed him in, and confirmed the fact: the body of Jesus was gone.
It is at that point that the text mentions that Mary had accompanied them, and apparently had merely stood outside of the cave all this time. Peter and John at that time hied home, while Mary lingered, and wept. Soon enough, she looked into the cave, and she saw two angels sitting at places where had been lain the head and the feet of the body of Jesus.
The angels asked her why she was weeping, and she answered that "they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where to". At that moment, she turned around and saw a man behind her, but didn't realize it was Jesus himself. The man also asked her why she was weeping. Assuming the man was just some local gardener or upkeeper, Mary pleaded with him that if he had taken the body, to please tell her where he had taken it.
Then comes the shortest sentence in the Bible: one word, the most personal word, a person's given name, or what has come to be known as one's Christian name.
In response to Mary's pleading, the man she thought was just a gardener or handyman simply looked at her and said:
And that's all he needed to say, and she knew.
He didn't say, "It's me, Jesus! I've risen from the dead!" He merely told her, in effect, I know you by simply speaking her name -- personally, directly and familiarly.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
(Source: John 20:1-16.)