Sara Sosa takes the well-known stories of Easter and offers a glimpse into how those closest to Jesus might have experienced it.
Mary, witness to the Resurrection
When I said yes, I was just a child, eager to please. You called me to an important task—one I would never have imagined. Now I can’t believe the time has gone so quickly.
But it is not over yet. Of all the trials I have suffered, this is most certainly the hardest. I know he has asked you to let the cup pass from him. But that does not seem your will. So I do not ask it.
Even so, he is my son. I have held him close. I know how his skin feels. I remember the smell of fresh air and sweat and little boy. I know what his laughter sounds like. I can almost hear it if I close my eyes.
But I will not close them. As long as he breathes, I will watch, though it tears me apart. The memories come: a newborn in a stall prepared for animals, an unexpected visit from faraway kings, a frantic flight to Egypt, a young boy lost on our trip to Jerusalem. And holding him close through all of it. My arms ache to hold him now.
Never have I questioned you. I struggle not to do it now. When your messenger came to me all those years ago he did not reveal this plan. His visit was somehow both disturbing and reassuring. I remember wondering why I wasn’t terrified. And now, even as my heart is breaking, I know I am not alone.
From the cross he wonders why you have forsaken him. He entrusts me to the care of one of his closest friends. He welcomes a thief into his kingdom. His love is outrageous. His strength and focus overwhelming. I see in him characteristics that must be yours. I have always seen that.
More memories—he comes to the aid of the host of a wedding, patiently trains his group of twelve, heals, walks on water, welcomes children, restores the dignity of a woman who had none. She kneels in the dirt beside me now. And then there is Lazarus. Who cannot but follow him after such a display?
You have darkened the sky and the earth has begun to tremble. I know you are here, though I cannot see you. I wish I could. I know your messengers are here, too, though I cannot see them either. As much as I try, I cannot perceive the heavenly realm, but I know it is present. I can see it on the face of my son.
God in heaven, I have done what you asked. With all that I am, I have loved him with a mother’s love—all the while knowing he was never really mine. In this moment, I am glad he is yours because you can redeem him from this agony. From his words, I know he understands you must look the other way. But that is a place where I can stand. I can continue to watch, to love while you must suspend your love for the briefest of moments. I will keep watch for both of us until the moment when he passes from this world, from my embrace into yours.
Father, into your hands I commend his spirit.
Thomas, witness to the Resurrection
I know I’m not the easiest person to be around. Sometimes the others get annoyed with me. I tend to notice what’s wrong with a situation. Often I’m just plain irritable.
That’s how I feel today. Irritated. More than that, I feel cheated, empty, lost. Everything is in turmoil. When we arrived in Jerusalem, I thought we were heading for victory over Roman oppression. As we walked alongside Jesus, the noise of the crowd was deafening. Everyone was pressing in, wanting to touch him, shouting “Hosanna.” I hadn’t felt that joyful in a long time.
But there was no victory. Jesus was no warrior, but we all thought he would win anyway. When you watch someone walk on water, heal the sick, call demons out of people, and raise the dead—well, even a skeptic like me begins to believe he can do anything.
Instead, he did nothing. He’s dead.
Honestly, I don’t even know why we are sitting in this dark room again. What’s the point? He’s gone.
The others want me to believe he’s alive. They say they’ve seen him, seen the wounds he received on the cross. But how is that possible?
We should go home. We should go back to doing what we did before he come into our lives.
Across the room is Peter—he’s a man transformed. A week ago he wore this constant look of pain. But now the light has returned to his eyes.
And there’s John. Of all of us, he was closest to Jesus. He stares off into the distance as if looking for something. Maybe he’s remembering last week when they say Jesus appeared. The atmosphere in this room was so oppressive—I needed space to think, so I went out. When I returned, they told me Jesus had been there. Surely they imagined what we all wish to be true.
But I am struck by something in their faces—they look happy. I feel something twist inside me. I am on the outside, looking in. Maybe I should leave. If they want to believe that Jesus is alive, good for them. I can’t.
I consider a second exit. I could go and never come back. How can I stay when I don’t believe what they say?
I wait a few more seconds, then I make my move. As soon as I stand, all conversation comes to a stop. I wince. I thought I could leave undetected, but they’ve seen me. Fine. They can watch me go. As I turn toward the door, I’m faced with the impossible.
Jesus stands looking at me. Not at the others. Just at me. “Peace be with you!” he says.
I didn’t know how badly I needed to see him, how desperately I needed to hear his voice. He has come for me.
“Thomas, put your finger here,” he says, showing me the wounds on his hands. “Reach out your hand and put it into my side.” My fingers twitch at the invitation, but I don’t move. His words are enough.
I was ready to walk out, to turn my back on it all. I was ready to abandon him because of my lack of faith. I do not lack faith now. I don’t even need to touch him. He has healed me in a way that I didn’t know I needed healing.
“My Lord and my God!”
He has extended grace. I choose to stay. Jesus has come back for me.
Sara Sosa is a pastor to kids and families at Plymouth (Minnesota) Covenant Church. She loves to wonder what it was like for the people in Jesus’s life to be near him. She has a Lab named Luke Skywalker, which was the only way her son would agree to name their dog Luke.