The children ate very little that evening. The memory was still too fresh, too painful in their minds.
After the supper dishes had been washed and the chores completed, Tony, Tie Li, and Kim walked through the gathering twilight along the path leading to the little cabin in the clearing. Grandmother would be waiting. Maybe she’d know the reasons for the terrible scene they had witnessed. So many questions crowded their thoughts. Why would an innocent, kind, loving God allow the very people He created to kill Him? The whole idea seemed senseless, totally beyond reason.
Grandmother was waiting at the front door. She smiled and hugged each child warmly. “Thank you for coming back,” she said. “I think we need to talk about this.”
Tony flopped down on the large beanbag by the fireplace. “It was even worse than I imagined. His mother was there. The disciples too. They all just stood and watched. There wasn’t anything they could do.”
Kim nodded. “The crowd had hate in their eyes. I’ve seen that look before. Why did they hate Him so? He was see only trying to help everybody.”
A sob came from the end of the couch where Tie Li sat. “Nobody help Him. Nobody.”
Grandmother listened as the children recounted what they had seen. She sat in silence, letting the awful story fill the room like a choking smoke.
When they had finished, the old woman hesitated for a long moment, clarifying in her own mind how she would address the terrible event the children had witnessed. When she finally spoke, her words were carefully chosen.
“Many, many thousands of years ago, before this earth was created, Satan made a very serious accusation. It was a lie, really. But one third, one third, of all the angels in heaven believed him. Satan said it was impossible for any man or any woman to live a life according to God’s plan. He also accused God of being a tyrant, a dictator, and said that created beings served Him out of fear, not love.
“So when Jesus formed this world, Satan was right there pointing his finger at Him saying, ‘Let’s see who’s right, shall we? Let me tempt these beings, and I’ll prove that my statements are true.’
“God knew how powerful evil could be. So eons before Creation He and His Son designed a plan–a master plan that would prove Satan wrong. That plan . . . would assure that evil’s hold on this earth would one day be forever broken. That plan . . . was Jesus.”
Kim sat forward in his chair. “I get it. He came to earth to show us that God was really our friend, that we could trust Him after all.”
“That’s right,” Grandmother encouraged, “But there is more.” Turning to Tony and Tie Li, she added, “Do you remember what He said to the serpent in Eden after Adam and Eve had eaten the fruit?”
“Enmity!” Tony shouted. “He said there would be something that would finally destroy Satan.”
“Exactly,” Grandmother said enthusiastically. “That something is God’s incredible love for you. That’s why He took our punishment and died for us. He couldn’t bear the thought of heaven without us.
“When Jesus showed the people of His time how to live a life free from sin, they didn’t like it–they felt guilty every time they heard Him speak. So they looked for ways to get rid of Him. Not everyone was like that, you understand, but enough were. Eventually, as you saw, they had Him killed.
“And one more thing. Only a God who has conquered sin can forgive sin.”
“But,” Tie Li said with a sigh, “Jesus is dead. Sin did win after all.”
“Yeah,” Kim nodded. “What good is a forgiving God if He’s dead?”
Grandmother turned to Tony. “Haven’t you told them?”
“Told them what?”
The old woman’s eyes opened wide. “The rest of the story . . . what happened next. Didn’t you read it?”
“I stopped reading the Book when Jesus was killed. I didn’t want to find out any more. I was too sad.”
“Tony, Tie Li, Kim! You don’t know what happened two days later?” Grandmother looked astounded.
The children shook their heads.
Grandmother Parks fairly flew across the room. Grabbing the Book off the shelf, she hurried over to Tony. “Here,” she said excitedly thumbing through the pages, “read . . . this. Just read it!”
Tony took the Book and scanned the words. His eyes grew wide in amazement, and his mouth dropped open.
“Grandmother,” he gasped, “I didn’t know. I didn’t know!”
“Didn’t know what?” Kim and Tie Li chorused.
“Come on!” Tony jumped up and raced out of the cabin. The other children ran behind, stumbling through the dark. Grandmother shouted after them, her voice echoing through the forest. “It’s the best part, the best part of all!”
The door to the workshop flew open as Tony burst into the room. Heading straight to his computer, he began typing furiously.
Kim and Tie Li arrived just as their brother jumped into his machine. “Come on, you guys. Hurry! You’re not going to believe it. Come on!”
In moments, Voyager flashed white and disappeared. On the computer screen resting above the workbench a group of words glowed in the darkness.
DESTINATION CODE: TOMB (JOSEPH OF ARIMATHEA)
TIME: SUNDAY (DAWN)
VOYAGER: UNDERWAY–CONDITION (NORMAL)
The early-morning sun was just peeking over the horizon as Voyager settled gently on the grassy slope of a garden nestled on the outskirts of Jerusalem. As the light radiating from the machine faded, its door swung open, spilling three children onto the ground.
Tony looked around, his gaze falling on an opening in the face of a stone wall about 20 feet away. “Over there,” he called to his companions. “That must be it.”
“What is it?” Kim asked, following behind his brother. “What are we looking for?”
“The tomb. The place where they buried Jesus.”
“Hey!” Tie Li stopped in her tracks. “I don’t want to see tomb.”
“Yes, you do,” Tony urged. “Believe me, you do!”
When the three reached the opening, Tony bent low and crept inside. Kim and Tie Li stayed behind, resting on a large, round stone lying on the ground.
In a few seconds Tony returned, a look of wonder and joy spreading across his face.
“What is it?” Kim asked, afraid of what the answer might be. “What’s in there?”
“See for yourself,” the younger boy encouraged.
Tie Li took hold of Kim’s arm as they entered the tomb.
The two returned, puzzled. “So,” Kim mumbled, “there’s nothing in there. What’s so great about that?”
Tony closed his eyes, savoring each word as he spoke. “This is the tomb where they buried Jesus.”
“Well, where’s the body? There’s nothing in there.”
A thought began to surface in Tie Li’s mind. She remembered the story of the widow’s son, the one Tony had told her. The prophet Elijah had raised the young boy from the . . . the . . .
“Tony,” the girl cried, “is He, is He . . .?” She dared not say it for fear she was wrong.
“Yes! He has risen. He’s alive!” Tony jumped up and down. “The Book said He rose early this morning. Kim, Tie Li, the Nazarene is alive again! He did it. He did it! He beat death. Satan is not stronger after all. Now He can forgive. Now He can help us all. Do you know what that means?”
Kim nodded. “That means we don’t have to be afraid of Satan or death or anything.”
Tony turned and ran toward Voyager. “We’ve got to tell people what happened. They’ll want to know what we’ve seen.”
“No, wait,” Kim called. “They won’t believe us. Besides, this all happened a couple thousand years ago. They’ll just say we’re kids with wild imaginations. Hey, Jesus Himself couldn’t get more than a handful of people to listen to Him when He was here in person.”
“Maybe so,” Tony countered. “But the Book, it has a lot more pages in it. I haven’t read them all, but I’ve heard stories. Grandmother used to tell me about a man named Paul who traveled all around on boats and stuff. He had exciting adventures telling people about Jesus. Peter the fisherman and some of the other disciples wrote about what they did too. Now I understand why. Everybody needs forgiveness. Because the Nazarene isn’t in that tomb, He can do what He said He’d do. He can give people hope again.”
“Tony waved toward the city. “So what if not everybody in our time believes. If just a few listen, that’ll be all right with me. We can do like the Nazarene did. We can live with love in our hearts. We can be kind to other people, help them. Then they’ll listen. I’m sure they will.
Kim nodded. “It’s worth a try.”
The children hurried toward Voyager. “By the way,” Kim asked, “if Jesus isn’t in the tomb, where is He? I mean, where is He in our time?”
Tony entered the machine and began flipping switches. “I don’t know. But I’ll find out. He can’t be very far away. He always seems to show up at the right time.”
Tie Li looked up at her brother, a satisfied smile on her face. “Tony,” she said, “we see Him again someday.”
Tony glanced down at the girl in surprise. “Why do you say that, little sister?”
“I don’t know. Just a feeling.”
The younger boy reached up to pull the door closed. His eye caught the first ray of morning as it flooded the opening of the tomb with a golden light. “You’re probably right,” he said. “And when it happens, it’ll be something to see.”
Voyager faded from view, leaving the garden as empty as the tomb. Beyond the trees, Jerusalem stirred. A new day was dawning.