By John Rieping | All rights reserved | Published 6 April 2013 in The Madera Tribune
In the dream, Simon "Kepha" (Aramaic for "rock" or Peter) Bar-Jonah reclined on cushions around a low table with his rabbi, Yeshua (Jesus), and the other disciples during the Passover Seder meal. Yeshua promised he and the other disciples would be enthroned as judges of the 12 tribes of Israel.
But confusion replaced Kepha's pride as the teacher continued. "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat; But I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail, and when you are converted, strengthen your brethren." (cf. Luke 22:31-32)
He protested his loyalty, and Yeshua replied that Kepha would deny him three times before the rooster crowed. Then Kepha remembered it had been so.
A tremor of the earth shook him in his dream and it faded. He would have rather it continued, regardless of the pain it evoked. For in it the rabbi lived.
He shifted his position on the straw-filled mattress he shared with the rest of the disciples on the floor of the upper room, the same place where the Seder had taken place. While entire families would sleep on the same mattress under blankets of goat hair, few consisted of 11 grown men. Yet they made do. They had known worse conditions during their three years of wandering and ministry across the Roman province of Judea.
Gathering all of them before the sabbath was both hindered and helped by the turmoil of Friday's events. Some had returned here on their own. The rest had to be found and brought. Kepha tried to live up to the name Yeshua had given him despite his weakness and guilt.
Other followers visited of course, such as Yohannah (Joanna), Mirriam (Mary) of Magdala, and Mirriam, the mother of the disciple Ya'aqov (James) the younger. They fed them news and refreshment while the men remained hidden from the authorities.
His mind recalled a time when Yeshua spoke to them, away from the crowds, of going to Jerusalem to suffer, die and be raised. Clearly by "raised" he must have meant the way he would be executed -- high upon a cross. But at the time it made no sense to him. Only now he understood.
Kepha took Yeshua aside and sharply said, "Be it far from you, rabbi! This shall not happen to you!" (Matthew 16:22)
Yeshua turned and said, "Get you behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me: for you savor not the things that are of God, but those that are of men." (Matthew 16:23)
Kepha thought: Is this what God wanted then? The death of the one who was to liberate us from our bondage? How could such an utter defeat bring about victory? If this is how God defines success, what is failure in his eyes? Tears rolled down his cheeks.
Insistent knocking at the locked door interrupted his thoughts. Perhaps it was Cleophas (Cleopas) and his companion returning for something forgotten when they left earlier. With the passing of the Sabbath, they wished to return to the village of Emmaus. Indeed, Kepha himself longed for his nets, boat, and the fickle Sea of Galilee, which he considered less treacherous than Jerusalem.
Kepha rose, as did Johanan, but it was Mirriam of Magdala they met at the door, breathless and pale. After a moment, she gasped, "They have taken away the rabbi out of the tomb, and we know not where they have laid him." (John 20:2)
She, Shelomit (Salome), and the mother of Ya'aqov had gone before sunrise to anoint the body of Yeshua with oil and spices. But when they arrived at the tomb, the large stone over its entrance had been rolled back, the Roman guards lay stricken with fear, the burial shelf stood empty, and a young man spoke nonsense that affirmed the absence of the rabbi.
At this news, Kepha and Johanan abandoned any concern for secrecy and ran. Mirriam followed. Through the busy streets of Jerusalem and beyond it, they raced to the garden near the house of the honorable Yosef (Joseph) of Arimathea, a member of the Sanhedrin and a secret disciple of Yeshua.
Johanan, a young man, arrived first but waited for the others outside the garden's new tomb, which was as Mirriam said. When Kepha came he did not hesitate. Entering the tomb, he saw the burial linens there -- empty. The cloth that had bound Yeshua's head sat rolled up by itself. Anger gripped Kepha's heart, for the rabbi's body had obviously been stolen.
Having waited patiently, Johanan stepped into the tomb as well, and when he saw how the shroud had been neatly arranged, he believed. He did not understand, but this was no robbery. It was a miracle. Yeshua lived.