SCRIPTURES FULFILLED-TOMB IS EMPTY!

MODERN-DAY REPORTER SERIES

by Bill Byrnes

        Mary Magdalene Discovers Body Missing!  Jesus is risen!              

 

 

          Jerusalem, Judea; Sunday AM; Reporter–Bill Byrnes This morning-at sunrise, Mary Magdalene and another woman named Mary, arrived at the tomb housing the body of slain Rabbi Jesus of Nazareth, crucified on Friday for the crime of blasphemy. They carried sweet-smelling spices to anoint his body. They were shocked to see that the huge boulder blocking  the entrance to the tomb had been rolled away!

Two Roman soldiers, sent by Governor Pontius Pilate to protect the tomb, stood next to the opening. Both appeared to be in a near state of shock–unable to speak!

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The huge boulder had been rolled away!

I was heading to the tomb this morning when I encountered the women–on the road to Galilee. They told me about a young stranger, inside the tomb. “This man had a countenance that shone as bright as any light.”, said Magdalene. As she relayed her story, I could see that the look of grief and shock I had observed on her Friday during the crucifixion was different. It was now a look of surprise mixed with some shock and something new–anticipation! She continued, “He said,  ‘Don’t be afraid. I know you are looking for Jesus. He is not here. He has risen from the dead–as he said he would. Come and see where his body was-then go quickly and tell his followers what has happened. Tell them Jesus is going into Galilee to see them.’ ”  With that, the women left and continued on their path to find Jesus’ disciples. I headed for the tomb.

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“This man had a countenance that shone as bright as any light!”

After what had to be only a few minutes or so, I heard sudden joyful shouts, mixed with loud sobbing! I turned around, heading back to the path the women were taking-fearful that they were in trouble. I saw them, both in a position of worship–hands outstretched as if they were holding something–I saw nothing! When I got to them, I asked them what was wrong. Again, it was Mary Magdalene who replied– “Sir, you didn’t see him?” I asked who it was I should have seen? They looked at each other, smiled back at me, then turned and continued quickly on their path. The look of anticipation I had noticed moments earlier was gone. A sort of glowing happiness had replaced it. Even if my description isn’t accurate, one thing  is for sure:  looks of grief, shock and sadness had left their faces!

When I arrived at the tomb, I saw no guards and no stranger. I  knew that the story would continue in Galilee.

As I am heading back to find the Disciples, I realize that there was no real story here. There comes a point where any reporter can lose his all-important “objectivity” when confronted by overwhelming facts. Well, I can no longer keep objectivity when confronted by this fact: everything has been FORETOLD and every prediction about the Messiah has been fulfilled! From here on…well…that is where the  real story begins!

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Luke:24:5-6:  And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, “Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen…”

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TERROR AT GOLGOTHA!

MODERN-DAY REPORTER SERIES  

by Bill Byrnes

Jesus Crucified– dies horrible death! Earth Trembles at His

              Passing!

Jerusalem, Judea; Golgotha; Friday, 7:00 p.m.; Reporter-Bill Byrnes   The young Rabbi who started a movement of peace, love and changing Mosaic Law, met a horrible end this afternoon. He died on the cross ending a six hour agonizing struggle. Hysterical followers, grief-stricken, sobbed, “No one should die like this. This man was the son of God–who performed many miraculous healings, and spoke of peace, love and God’s forgiveness!”

During the last few hours on the cross, darkness came over all of Jerusalem; when Jesus actually died…an earthquake hit the area, breaking open tombs and actually tearing the curtain in the Sanhedrin from top to bottom! A lone Centurion, guarding the crucifixion site was heard to exclaim , “Truly, this was God’s Son!”

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” No one should die like this!”

Despite this incredible, inhuman, 6-hour death, his ordeal began in the pre-dawn hours after his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane. In a closed-door trial held by leaders of the Sanhedrin–Jesus was declared a “Blasphemer”–a crime that carries a death sentence!  Attendees at the trial, whose anonymity was guaranteed by this reporter, said that witnesses testifying against the man of peace all had stories that “lacked credibility” and conflicted with each other. None of that mattered to Caiaphas, the High Priest and his followers, all of whom declared the defendant: “Guilty!” It was further reported that while these proceedings were going on, Judas Iscariot– the disciple who betrayed Jesus– hung himself out of despair after seeing the result of his actions.  His suicide is not consistent with the notion that it was money alone that prompted his betrayal.

 

                            Politics vs. the Conspiracy

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The truth didn’t matter to Caiaphas    

The early morning hours saw the assembly taking Jesus  to the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate, for judgment. Pilate tried to pass responsibility back to the Jewish leaders, exhorting them to judge the accused according to their own laws…then execute him. In a masterful maneuver, the Jews replied that Roman law prevented them from executing death sentences. Not to be outdone, Pilate, after questioning Jesus, told the gathering that he found no basis for sentencing, and that he would refer the case to King Herod, who was in Jerusalem for the Passover Feast. King Herod, after questioning the accused, quickly sent him back to Pilate.

Pilate, flustered with that outcome, told the crowd that neither him, nor King Herod could find Jesus guilty. As a “half-way” measure, he decided to have the Rabbi whipped and released.

At this point, politics again reared its ugly head: the chief priests goaded the crowd into exercising a yearly privilege: at Passover, the Roman governor would free one prisoner chosen by the people. The crowd chose Barabbas, a murderer, to be freed. Pilate, in one last gesture to the crowd demanded, “What has this man done–what do you want me to do with him? The crowd shouted, “Crucify him!” Pilate again demanded, “Why?”. All he got was the same answer from the crowd–but even louder. The chief Roman, not wanting a riot to ensue, realized that he had no choice. He took a bowl of water and washed his hands in front of the crowd, saying, “I am not guilty of this man’s death. You are the ones causing it!”

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You are the ones causing this”!

Roman soldiers led Jesus away for his execution. From all accounts, it was a horrible ordeal inflicted upon the young Nazarene including beatings, and public floggings that tore pieces of flesh from his back! After the Romans placed a crown of thorns on his head, he had to carry his cross thru the town to the execution site–“The Place of the Skull”; in Hebrew, called “Golgotha”, many know it by it’s Latin name – “Calvary”. At several points, Jesus stumbled under the heavy load. A man from Cyrene – Simon – stepped from the crowd to help with him carry it.

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Simon of Cyrene helped Jesus carry his burden.

Once at the site, the punishment went from massive to inhuman as bones were broken to fit the stocks on the cross. Then, rather than tying his limbs to the wooden members, huge spikes were used to actually nail his hands and feet into the wood.  A sign was fastened to the cross, above his head. On it were the initials, “INRI” , which stood for the Hebrew words meaning “Jesus-King of the Jews”. Observers say that just before his moment of death, Jesus called1 out to his God. Then, after a sponge soaked with vinegar was raised up to his mouth, he tasted it, then uttered his last words: “It is finished!” Time of death was approx. 6:00 p.m.. A final indignity: a Roman soldier pierced Jesus’ side with his lance to make sure he was dead!

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It was exactly at the time of death that earthquakes hit the entire town of Jerusalem. The massive curtain in the Sanhedrin, separating the most Holy place of the synagogue from  the other commonly used areas, was torn top to bottom. Graves were opened and people started reporting seeing loved ones raised from the dead — walking the streets! Though these reports have not been substantiated, this reporter can vouch for the validity of the other damage. “It was as if the Earth cried out to everyone in Jerusalem”,  shouted one of the witnesses, as he was running away wildly, changing his directions as his panic caused numerous indecisions.

There was no one left unaffected by these occurrences!

Reportedly, Joseph, of  Arimathaea, one of Jesus’ allies at the Sanhedrin, went Pontius Pilate  and secured the body for proper burial in his own, new gravesite. This  happened quickly, because today (Friday) is Preparation Day for any corpse. Jewish law prohibits any further preparations on the Sabbath day(Saturday).

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Only one question remains: the eleven other disciples of Jesus- the men who were the constant companions to him & who were with him every moment till the betrayal at Gethsemane-have totally disappeared! There is no knowledge of their whereabouts. The only report surfacing amidst all the confusion was that a man, closely resembling Simon Peter, one of the most trusted of the Disciples was seen in the courtyard of Caiaphas’ house during the trial. After repeated questioning, the man fled, ranting hysterically, after the second crowing of a rooster.

But, all things considered, who can blame them for disappearing? It was as if they knew that there was nothing they could do–that all of the betrayal, suffering and agony of Jesus Christ–whom many say was the Son of God– was supposed to happen exactly as it did!

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“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”: John:3:16

BETRAYAL AT GETHSAMENE!

MODERN-DAY REPORTER SERIES

Man of Peace” taken at Sword-point in pre-dawn raid!

 

Jerusalem, Judea;  Early A.M.–Friday; Reporter – Bill Byrnes:  In the  pre-dawn hours, at this little garden-spot on the Mount of Olives, Jesus of Nazareth was taken into custody by a group of Temple guards, pressed into service by the religious leaders of the Sanhedrin. One of Jesus’ own followers, Judas Iscariot, singled out the young Rabbi to the arresting group. “This was necessary to prevent his escape in conditions without light” said one of the deputies.

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Jesus himself calmed the situation.

 

Confusion & high emotions almost took control, but it was Jesus

himself who calmed the situation! Reportedly, some bloodshed occurred

when one of Jesus’ followers drew his sword and struck one of the high

priests’ guards , cutting off his ear! Rather than try to escape in the

mayhem, the “man of peace” from Nazareth actually rebuked his followers

shouting, “Put your sword in its place! All who live by the sword, shall

perish by the sword!” Then, amazingly, he went to his injured opponent and

healed the man’s ear with his bare hands! Sources present at the

confrontation said that both sides were awestruck at this selfless act. Then

the rabbi continued with his rebuke saying, “Surely you know  I could ask

my Father in Heaven and he would give me more than twelve legions of angels to help! But it must happen this way to bring about what the Scriptures say!” The young man who was smitten, and healed, stood dumbfounded as his comrades left with their captor. As the group left the scene, Jesus’ disciples scattered and ran away.

It is not known where the betraying disciple, Judas, fled to.

Eyewitnesses said  he left in a different direction–appearing to take a

heading towards the Temple. At this point, speculation says that the betrayal

was only for money since there were no other areas of dispute within the

small group.

A guard, who prefers to stay anonymous, said that they were to take

him to the house of Caiaphas, high priest of the Sanhedrin, where he would

answer to charges of blasphemy- a crime punishable by death!

One big question remains: any execution must be performed by the

Romans–and, before that, the Roman Governor must approve it.

Speculation says Pontius Pilate, newly appointed Governor, wants to keep

the different factions in this troubled land at peace–which means that he

might approve! But first, Jesus must be found guilty by the leaders of the

Sanhedrin. Every indication is that he will be…in Jerusalem, facts are never

an issue. What the Sanhedrin wants–the Sanhedrin gets!

 

 

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The Voice On the Mount

(Modern-Day Reporter Series)

 

                   Nazarene Rabbi preaches to thousands on

                  Mount; calls for  mercy , compassion &

                  forgiveness ; chooses 12 followers!

  

Matthew: 4:15-16: “ In the land of Zabulon, and the land of  Nepthalim (near Capernaum) by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles ; the people which sat in darkness saw a great light…” 

Capernaum, Judea (31 a.d.) – Reporter:  Bill Byrnes                                                      

Controversial young Rabbi, Jesus of Nazareth,  added to his already  burgeoning reputation yesterday, when he preached to thousands atop a small Mount, on the Northern edge of the Sea of Galilee.

Though some calling themselves  his friends  said this was  the first official act of his ministry, this native of Nazareth has already established quite a reputation among Judeans – many of whom already refer to him as the “Messiah” – the savior –  whose  coming has been foretold for many centuries in  Jewish religious scriptures .  Interestingly enough, Jesus has never referred to himself as the messiah, but, in the past several months, he has been credited with healings that have been nothing short of miraculous, and all of them having several witnesses!  All manner of diverse diseases including leprosy; great fevers, afflictions from birth, and the expulsion of evil spirits were healed!

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“All manner of diseases were healed–including leprosy!

Just a few days ago, Jesus chose twelve men to be his “Apostles”–or Followers. These men , reportedly , have forsaken all their worldly possessions to be among the chosen. I’m  awaiting verification of all their  identities before mentioning any of them.          It was  an  incredible scene. He stood on a small rise, above the people, who were stretched out on three sides of the surrounding terrain, almost as far as the eye could see. They came from all over : Galilee, Decapolis, Jerusalem, and many other areas of Judea, and  beyond Jordan. There was no limit  to age or gender. There were many families , and  even young children, normally rambunctious , seemed to pay attention  when he spoke– it was the most incredible presentation ever witnessed by this reporter!  His voice was not the powerful, booming instrument shown by great orators of the past; but it was steady and unwavering–soothing and penetrating when he wanted to emphasize key points.

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Blessed are the poor in spirit  , for their’s is the Kingdom of Heaven . Blessed are they who mourn for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek,-  for they shall inherit the Earth!”

But the most amazing thing about his presentation was his eyes — — at any given time, he looked directly into everyone’s  eyes — AT THE SAME TIME!  I discovered this by circulating among the crowd, talking with them during his pauses. One young mother, choking – up, almost sobbing, said, “The way he looks into my eyes– — comforts me and my children greatly.” Her gaze never left him while she answered.  A man 20-30 ft.  down from her  said, ”The way his eyes look into mine when he speaks;  I’ve never felt so content.  And my children, usually very playful, are quite still, as if they have just finished eating and are ready for sleep. But the way they’re staring at Jesus , they must understand him too!  As I moved among the masses, the responses were the same. And when I sat  and listened, I was affected as much as anyone!

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness:  for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”

          When I first started hearing stories of the child prodigy from Nazareth — I just mentally filed them away for future reference. But, now….now I knew  there had to be some truth to  them. Suddenly, I could form a mental picture of the 12-year old boy sitting in the temple in Jerusalem, asking questions and discussing issues of faith with the most educated of clerics, who were spellbound with the lad’s answers to their questions. All of this happened while his parents (not knowing their son’s whereabouts) frantically searched for him  for 3 days!

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They were amazed with the boy’s answers!

The most impact occurred during the last three of his “blessings”,  “Blessed are the pure in heart – for they shall see God! Blessed are the peacemakers–for they shall be called the children of God ! Blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice’s sake, for their’s is the kingdom of Heaven! “  With the last few words, it was if a very short episode of collective , brief sobbing was heard  throughout the entire crowd! I must admit, I was not immune to being a little choked-up!

After this, he spoke at great length regarding a new purpose for the laws governing his people. No one in the crowd, myself included, had any doubts that this man was, indeed, the long awaited messiah! But, he still never referred to himself by that name. He came pretty close to it when answering criticisms from some skeptics in the crowd who accused him of trying to destroy the laws of their ancestors. Matthew: 5;17: “Think not that I have come to destroy the law, or the prophets. I have not come to destroy them, but to FULFILL them.”   So, at the least, Jesus  gave himself a very special “raison  d’etre ”.

Certainly, everyone leaving the event realized  that they were at a very special happening. The blessings bestowed by Jesus were termed “Beatitudes”. Considering that the word comes from the Latin  “beatus” , meaning “blissful” or “fortunate”  This reporter can honestly say that I was very “fortunate” for having drawn this assignment.

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* See Note Below*

(One year later –   32 a.d.) 

Reporter’s post-script:   After  posting the above article my editor  gave me a royal chewing-out for losing objectivity, and removed me from any assignments covering Jesus. This morning, I was exonerated! No sooner had I gone to my desk, than he came over saying:  “Hey, Byrnes – don’t hang up your coat! You’re back on with your messiah.”  I stammered, “Great–but what happened?” Then, I added facetiously,  ”I thought I wasn’t objective enough?”

“ Yeah,  but now, we’ve got a whole new ball-game– AND I want you on it– — Now!”

As  I started gathering all my necessities  he added: “During last night’s storm out on the lake– — several witnesses saw your messiah  rescue his followers —  BY  WALKING  ON THE WATER!”

“No complaints from me, boss”.  I was all smiles and as I exited the office, my smiles turned into almost giddy chuckling when I confronted this question: have I gained much more than the greatest story ever—have I found GOD—alive, well, and walking around Judea? In my gut—I knew the answer!

 

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