At the crack of dawn on Sunday, the women came to the tomb carrying the burial spices they had prepared.
They found the entrance stone rolled back from the tomb,
so they walked in. But once inside, they couldn't find the body of the Master Jesus.
They were puzzled, wondering what to make of this. Then, out of nowhere it seemed, two men, light cascading over them, stood there.
The women were awestruck and bowed down in worship. The men said, "Why are you looking for the Living One in a cemetery?
He is not here, but raised up. Remember how he told you when you were still back in Galilee
that he had to be handed over to sinners, be killed on a cross, and in three days rise up?"
Then they remembered Jesus' words.
They left the tomb and broke the news of all this to the Eleven and the rest.
Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them kept telling these things to the apostles,
but the apostles didn't believe a word of it, thought they were making it all up.
But Peter jumped to his feet and ran to the tomb. He stooped to look in and saw a few grave clothes, that's all. He walked away puzzled, shaking his head.
That same day two of them were walking to the village Emmaus, about seven miles out of Jerusalem.
They were deep in conversation, going over all these things that had happened.
In the middle of their talk and questions, Jesus came up and walked along with them.
But they were not able to recognize who he was.
He asked, "What's this you're discussing so intently as you walk along?"
Then one of them, his name was Cleopas, said, "Are you the only one in Jerusalem who hasn't heard what's happened during the last few days?"
He said, "What has happened?"
They said, "The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene. He was a man of God, a prophet, dynamic in work and word, blessed by both God and all the people. Then our high priests and leaders betrayed him, got him sentenced to death, and crucified him.
And we had our hopes up that he was the One, the One about to deliver Israel. And it is now the third day since it happened.
But now some of our women have completely confused us. Early this morning they were at the tomb
and couldn't find his body. They came back with the story that they had seen a vision of angels who said he was alive.
Some of our friends went off to the tomb to check and found it empty just as the women said, but they didn't see Jesus."
Then he said to them, "So thick-headed! So slow-hearted! Why can't you simply believe all that the prophets said?
Don't you see that these things had to happen, that the Messiah had to suffer and only then enter into his glory?"
Then he started at the beginning, with the Books of Moses, and went on through all the Prophets, pointing out everything in the Scriptures that referred to him.
They came to the edge of the village where they were headed. He acted as if he were going on
but they pressed him: "Stay and have supper with us. It's nearly evening; the day is done." So he went in with them.
And here is what happened: He sat down at the table with them. Taking the bread, he blessed and broke and gave it to them.
At that moment, open-eyed, wide-eyed, they recognized him. And then he disappeared.
Back and forth they talked. "Didn't we feel on fire as he conversed with us on the road, as he opened up the Scriptures for us?"
They didn't waste a minute. They were up and on their way back to Jerusalem. They found the Eleven and their friends gathered together,
talking away: "It's really happened! The Master has been raised up - Simon saw him!"
Then the two went over everything that happened on the road and how they recognized him when he broke the bread.
While they were saying all this, Jesus appeared to them and said, "Peace be with you."
They thought they were seeing a ghost and were scared half to death.
He continued with them, "Don't be upset, and don't let all these doubting questions take over.
Look at my hands; look at my feet - it's really me. Touch me. Look me over from head to toe. A ghost doesn't have muscle and bone like this."
As he said this, he showed them his hands and feet.
They still couldn't believe what they were seeing. It was too much; it seemed too good to be true.
They gave him a piece of leftover fish they had cooked.
He took it and ate it right before their eyes.
Then he said, "Everything I told you while I was with you comes to this: All the things written about me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets, and in the Psalms have to be fulfilled."
He went on to open their understanding of the Word of God, showing them how to read their Bibles this way.
He said, "You can see now how it is written that the Messiah suffers, rises from the dead on the third day,
and then a total life-change through the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed in his name to all nations - starting from here, from Jerusalem!
You're the first to hear and see it. You're the witnesses.
What comes next is very important: I am sending what my Father promised to you, so stay here in the city until he arrives, until you're equipped with power from on high."
He then led them out of the city over to Bethany. Raising his hands he blessed them,
and while blessing them, took his leave, being carried up to heaven.
And they were on their knees, worshiping him. They returned to Jerusalem bursting with joy.
They spent all their time in the Temple praising God. Yes.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)