This chapter begins with:
JEWS SUSPICIOUS AND UNEASY
We must not suppose that Jesus was buried 6 feet underground. The sepulchre was a big, airy chamber and not a grave. Jim Bishop (a Christian authority of note), in his book “The Day Christ Died,” gives the dimensions as 5 feet wide by 7 feet high by 15 feet deep, with a ledge or ledges inside, which any “pondokkie” dweller in our slums would have been happy to own as his residence. The Jews were suspicious. It was all very “fishy.”
(a) The tomb within easy reach.
(b) Helping hands of his “secret” disciples.
(c) His “crossmates” still alive.
(d) His legs not broken, whereas those of his “crossmates” were!
(e) Quick and easy permission granted by Pilate to obtain the body of Jesus.
For these and many more reasons, the Jews were suspicious. They felt that they had been cheated. Jesus was ALIVE! (?) So they ran to Pilate. But they had missed the bus again! They were 24 hours too late!
Jim Bishop was not a Christian authority, he was a journalist. According to the reviews on Amazon.com, the book The Day Christ Died is historical fiction. The dimensions of Jesus’ tomb cannot be known. The text does not claim that the Jews were suspicious of any of the above. The tomb would obviously be in the vicinity of Jerusalem and not at some distant location. The Jews could not be suspicious of Jesus’ “secret disciples” since they were secret. Pilate made sure Jesus was dead before handing the body over to Joseph of Arimathea (Mark 15:44-45). In the next section Deedat intentionally hides the Jews’ true suspicions from his readers:
“Now the NEXT day . .. the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate,
Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said . . .
Command, therefore, that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest . . .
the LAST error shall be worse than the FIRST (error).”
(HOLY BIBLE) Matthew 27:62-64
The Jews are talking about “first” and “last”, not realising that in all their nervous haste they had made another slip. They had gone to Pilate only the NEXT day. They wanted to close the stable-door after the horse had bolted. Pilate was not interested in their childish plots. He had had enough of them. So he says to them:
“… Ye have a watch; go your way, make it as sure as ye can. ”
(HOLY BIBLE) Matthew 27:65
He was not going to pander to their whim. He had more than enough reasons to hate them.
Note the use of ellipses in the quote from Matthew 27:62-64. The full text reads (NIV):
The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”
The Jews are not uneasy because they think Jesus is alive, they are uneasy because they think his disciples will steal his corpse and declare that he has risen from the dead. This is nothing but blatant deception on the part of Ahmed Deedat. Continuing on he writes:
What the Jews did or did not do after Pilate’s curt reply is immaterial. They had already lost a day! But the Christian cultists clutching at straws, transform the Jewish temple “guard” to soldiers, and make these into “Roman” soldiers. Then fill pages expounding the efficiency of the Roman military machine; that it can never be caught napping or caught off-guard! And the dire consequences in store for any that slipped. Did all this make the Roman soldier impeccable, faultless (?). By the time the unwary and weary reader wades through the profuse irrelevant details, he is ready to swallow everything hook, line, and sinker uncritically. It is a deception they have developed as an art! “soldiers”
What was the FIRST “error” that the Jews made in wanting to eliminate Jesus? The first was that they had permitted Jesus to be brought down from the cross without breaking his legs, under the false assumption that he had died. The LAST would be to allow the “secret” disciples of Jesus to render help to the wounded man, by NOT sealing off the tomb. But in the meantime, they made another mistake by approaching Pilate the “NEXT” day which was TOO LATE! God works in a mysterious way. His Ways are not our ways. He says:
And (the unbelievers) plotted and planned, and Allah too planned, and the best of planners is Allah (Quran 3:54)
What the Jews did after Pilate’s reply is of great importance. They went to the tomb and sealed it (Matthew 27:66). Since they were worried that Jesus’ body would be stolen they most likely made sure Jesus’ corpse was still in the tomb before sealing it, thus making the one day delay irrelevant. Deedat continues:
It was Sunday morning, the FIRST day of the week, according to Hebrew calculations, with Saturday the Sabbath as the seventh, when Mary Magdalene alone (Mark 16:9 and John 20:1) visited the tomb of Jesus.
The question arises: “Why did she go there?” “TO ANOINT HIM”, Mark 16:1 tells us. The Hebrew word for anoint is “masaha”, which means to rub, to massage, to anoint. The second question is: “Do Jews massage dead bodies after 3 days?” The answer is “No!” “Do the Christians massage dead bodies after 3 days?” The answer is again, “No!” Do the Muslims (who are the nearest to the Jews in their ceremonial laws) massage dead bodies after 3 days? And the answer is again, “No!” Then why should a Jewess want to massage a dead, decaying body after 3 days? We know that within 3 hours rigor mortis sets in — the stiffening of the body after death. In 3 days time, the body would be fermenting from within — the body cells would be breaking up and decomposing. If anyone rubs such a decaying body, it will fall to pieces. Does the rubbing make sense? No!
It would, however, make sense if she was looking for a LIVE person. You see, she was about, the only person besides Joseph of Arimathe’a and Nicodemus who had given the final rites to the body of Jesus. If she had seen any sign of life in the limp body of Jesus when he was taken down from the cross, she was not going to shout, “HE IS ALIVE!” She returns after 2 nights and a day, when the Jewish Sabbath had passed, to take care of Jesus.
Once again Ahmed Deedat attempts to deceive his less knowledgeable readers. The New Testament is written in Greek, not Hebrew. Mark 16:1 uses the Greek word aleipho which means “to anoint” and not “to rub” or “to massage”. The word “masaha” is not present and mentioned only to mislead. Moving on:
STONE REMOVED — WINDING SHEETS UNWOUND
She was sorely amazed to find on arrival, that somebody had already removed the stone and, on peeping into the tomb, she finds that the winding sheets (shroud) were folded up inside. More questions arise? “Why Was the stone removed?” Because for a resurrected body, one which had conquered death, it was not necessary for the stone to be removed for it to get out, nor was it necessary for the winding sheets to- be unwound for it to move. Because, for a spiritualised body: “STONE WALLS DO NOT A PRISON MAKE, NOR IRON BARS A CAGE.”
The removal of the stone and the unwinding of the winding sheets was the need of a physically resuscitated body, not that of a resurrected body! The empty tomb was an anti-climax to what she had expected! So the hysterical woman (Jesus had had to cast out of her “seven devils” – Mark 16:9) breaks down and sobs. Jesus was all the while watching her from the vicinity — not from heaven, but from earth.
This burial vault (tomb) was a privately-owned property belonging to Joseph of Arimathe’a (a very rich, influential Jew), who could afford to carve out of rock the big roomy chamber. Around this tomb was his vegetable garden. Please do not try to tell me that this Jew was so generous that he was planting vegetables 5 miles out of town, for other people’s goats and sheep to graze upon. Surely, he must also have built gardeners’ quarters for his labourers and his own country home for himself and his family to relax during the weekends?
The stone is rolled away from the tomb so that the women and disciples can see that Jesus’ body has risen from the dead (Matthew 28:6; Mark 16:6; Luke 24:12; John 20:1-9). Deedat is also under the false impression that the resurrected body lacks a physical component. Next he writes:
A PRACTICAL JOKE
Jesus is there! He is watching this woman. He knows who she is, and he knows why she is there. He approaches her from behind, and finds her crying. So he asks her:
“Woman, why wee pest thou? Whom seekest thou? —
(HOLY BIBLE) John 20:15
Before she replies, allow me to interject: “Why does he ask what appears to be silly questions? Doesn’t he know the obvious reasons? Of course he does! Then why the silly questions?”
The answer is that in reality they are not silly questions, though they appear to be so. He knows that this woman is looking for him, and she is disappointed on not finding him; hence the weeping. But he also knows that because of his heavy disguise she would not be able to recognise him. So metaphorically speaking he is pulling her leg. In describing this incident John, referring to Mary Magdalene, says:
“She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him”.
(Still John 20:15)
Now why should she suppose that he is a gardener? Do resurrected persons look like “gardeners”? Nol! Then why does she suppose him to be a gardener? Because he is disguised as a GARDENER! Why is he disguised as a gardener? Because he is afraid of the Jews! Why is he afraid of the Jews? Because he did not die and did not conquer death! If he had died, and if he had conquered death, then he would not be afraid anymore. Why not? Because a resurrected body cannot die twice! Who says so? The Bible says so. Where? In the Book of Hebrews 9:27. It says:
“. . . It is ordained unto all men ONCE to die, and after that the judgement.”
John 20:10-18 does not say that Jesus is pulling Mary’s leg, it does not say Jesus is in disguise, and it does not say Jesus is in fear of his life. Once again Deedat has to add things to the text to make it support his theory. The reason for Mary’s inability to recognize Jesus immediately is not stated. However, it is not surprising that she would think someone in a garden was a gardener. The next section reads:
BACK FROM THE DEAD
But what about the hundreds of people who have come back from the “dead”? We read about them daily in our newspapers. Those persons who were certified dead, by medical men, and who subsequently came back to life; were not really DEAD, in the sense of DEATH AND RESURRECTION. Our Doctors have erred and will continue to make mistakes; it cannot be helped. But I want you to note the word “dead” on page 63, and “Corpse” on page 22, and “crucifixion” on page 85. All these words are in inverted commas. The honest and alert newspaper reporter in each case is telling us, very subtly, that the “DEAD” was not really dead. That the “CORPSE” was not really a corpse, and that the “CRUCIFIXIONS” were not really crucifixions but cruel-fictions! They were SO-CALLED dead, the SO-CALLED corpse, the SO-CALLED crucifixions, etc. But from the newspaper circulation point of view, the word “SO-CALLED” would greatly diminish the sensationalism, lessen the news value, and reduce possible sales. After all business is business! Hence the inverted commas “…” In actual fact, no man ever dies twice. No matter how many death certificates are issued.
THE DRAMA CONTINUES
Mary supposing the disguised Jesus to be a gardener, says unto him:
“Sir, if you have taken HIM hence, tell me where have you laid HIM . . .”
(HOLY BIBLE) John 20:15
She is not looking for a corpse, for “it”. She is looking for a LIVE person, for “HIM”. And further, she wants to know as to “where have you ‘LAID’ him?” (i.e. To rest, to relax, to recuperate!) NOT, “where have youhim?” BURIED
“So that I might take HIM away.”
(HOLY BIBLE) John 20:15
Take HIM away, where? What would she want with a dead (?), decomposing body? She could only bury it. Who dug the grave? Carrying a corpse is one thing for an American Super-woman, but another for this frail Jewess; carrying a corpse of at least a hundred and sixty pounds. That weight plus another 100 pounds of medicaments (according to John 19:39) would make a neat load of 260 pounds. Carrying would be one thing, but burying? She would have to dump it in a hole! Does it make any sense?
The prank that Jesus was playing upon this woman had gone too far. The woman had not been able to see through the disguise yet and Jesus was “laughing under his breath”, but could restrain himself no longer. He blurts out: “M-A-R-Y!” Only the one word! But it was enough. This one word, “Mary!” did what all the exchange of words failed to do. It enabled Mary to recognise her Master. Everyone has his or her unique and peculiar way of calling one’s nearest and dearest. It was not the mere utterance of the word “Mary”, but its deliberate intonation which made her respond: “Master! Master!”. Mad with happiness, she lunges forward to grab her Master, to pay reverence. Jesus says,
“Touch me not!”
(HOLY BIBLE) John 20:17
First, the use of “it” or “him” tells us nothing about whether Jesus was alive or dead since people routinely refer to the dead as “him” or “her” instead of “it.” Moreover, the Greek word autos can mean “him,” “her,” or “it.” Second, the use of the term “laid” (Greek tithemi) does not imply that Jesus was resting, relaxing, or recuperating. The term means “to set, put, place.” It can be used to describe laying a corpse in a tomb (Matthew 27:60; Mark 6:29; 15:47; 16:6; Luke 23:53, 55; John 19:41-42; Acts 7:16; 13:29; Revelation 11:9). Third, Mary shows great concern for Jesus’ body because she wants to make sure he is properly buried. Mary had plenty of friends to help her properly bury Jesus’ body if it came to that (note she alerts Peter and the disciple whom Jesus loved in John 20:2), regardless of what Deedat thinks of Jewish women (note his assumption that Mary is a frail Jewess as opposed to a strong, resourceful woman). The chapter ends with the following:
Why not? Is he a bundle of electricity, a dynamo, that if she touches him, she might get electrocuted? No! “Touch me not!”, because it would hurt. Though he appears normal to all intents and purposes, he had, nevertheless, been through a violent, physical and emotional ordeal. It would be excruciatingly painful if he allowed her any enthusiastic contact. Jesus continues:
“For I am not yet ASCENDED unto my Father.”
(HOLY BIBLE) John 20:17
She is not blind. She can see the man standing there before her. What does he mean by “not yet ascended” — GONE UP — when he was DOWN right there? He is, in fact, telling her that he is not RESURRECTED from the DEAD. In the language of the Jew, in the idiom of the Jew, he is saying: “I AM NOT DEAD YETl” — He is saying: “I AM ALIVE!”
“And they (the disciples), when they heard that he was ALIVE, and had been seen by her (Mary Magdalene),they BELIEVED NOT.”
(HOLY BIBLE) Mark 16:11
Jesus does not forbid Mary to touch her because it would hurt, he forbids her to touch her because he had not yet returned to his Father. Deedat separates John 20:17 into two quotations, but they are related with the second quotation explaining the reason for the command given in the first quotation. Note that a week later Jesus has no problem with Thomas probing his wounds (John 20:24-31) so pain is not the issue. The phrase “returned to the Father” means he has not gone to heaven to be with God and is not a Jewish idiom for being alive. Of course resurrected people are alive so it is unclear how Deedat thinks this works in his favor against the traditional Christian understanding of these events. Raymond Brown explains that Mary clings to Jesus because she thinks he is ready to resume his close relationship with his followers, but that Jesus corrects her view by explaining that his relationship will be in the form of the Spirit after his ascension (The Gospel According to John XIII-XXI, p. 1014).