While reading The Friendship Class lesson on Luke’s account of the Resurrection for this Easter Sunday morning, it called to mind an epiphany moment that happened to me Saturday, 26 May 2007.
That Saturday evening our weekly Adult Bible Study Group was finishing up a study of Matthew. It was our practice that as we finished each study, the final lesson would be taught by our adult minister in the home of one of the members of the study group. We would then share a potluck supper.
As we arrived we gathered in the family room to begin the study of our last lesson on Matthew. It was titled “God with us”(Matt. Ch 27:57 – Ch 28:20. RSV).
As we came to the scriptures about the Crucified Risen Christ, our leader asked if anyone would volunteer to read verses 1-10 of Chapter 28. Contrary to my longstanding rule not to volunteer for anything, I held up my hand.
As I proceeded to read the scripture, I read that Mary Magdalene and the other Mary had come early to the sepulcher. I also read that an angel whose appearance was like lightning and his raiment “white as snow” had rolled back the stone from the tomb of Jesus and sat on it. The guards were very fearful, trembled, and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid. Jesus, who was crucified, is not here for he has risen. Come see the place where he lay. Go quickly then and tell the disciples that he has risen from the dead and is going before you to Galilee and there you will see him.”
As I read these scriptures in the presence of the other class members, I began to internalize the power and meaning of what the scripture was saying and became aware that I might lose my composure and perhaps even weep. I was near the end of my scripture so I continued.
“The women left the tomb quickly, with fear and great joy, and ran to tell the disciples. And behold Jesus met them and said, “Hail. And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him.”
As I read this, my voice trembled and my body also involuntarily trembled. In the room before me, I saw what I believed to be Jesus. He was all light. His clothes were brilliantly white. His figured glowed. His was the figure of a man but there were no features, just brilliant Light. The women, dressed in dark clothes with their heads covered, had fallen at his feet on the dusty road. They were trembling and crying tears of joy and were touching and kissing the feet of Jesus.
It was a very vivid, real and moving scene.
For those few moments, the room seemed profoundly quiet. It seemed that no one else was there. As I regained my awareness of the room and the presence of my classmates, I mumbled through the reading of the last verse of my scripture. I finished and it seemed that every one was very quiet. I quickly looked to see if anyone had observed what I had observed. The classmates on either side of me had questioning looks on their faces, but no one commented.
I was deeply stirred about what I had seen and felt. After a few days I told my wife about what had happened. I did not talk about it again until the spring of 2011 when our study group did a comparative study of the four Gospels under the guidance of Dr. Tom Graves. By then I felt enough confidence in our group to share the story.