Easter Retold: Part Three

Without any more delay, the third part in the saga of Dustin McCabe

 

Part three
Dustin’s followers, except Michael Morris, who had shot himself upon realizing what he had done, were in their room in the Bluebird in. A chair was pushed beneath the door, and they had hardly slept in the past two days. All of them had slowly trickled into the room after Dustin’s execution and the events that followed.
First, there had been a huge earthquake. More violent than anyone had ever felt. The ground itself split apart, farmhouses disappearing into the abyss. No lives had been lost, and some even claimed to have seen the dead raised to life.
Second, within the First Peacebrook Church, all of the tables that contained the various cleansing rituals one had to perform to be right before God splintered. One eyewitness said it was like they just got tired of staying together, and just fell apart.
Third, a deputy named Joseph Arim had gone to Judge Travers and requested the body of Dustin. He and another man had wrapped it and taken it out to the local cemetary. Joseph bought one of the mausoleums, which was still unused, and had put the cadaver inside it. Aaron Hendrickson had followed him out. Having been raised in a family of undertakers, Aaron was disgusted in how the two other men had tended to the body. But the Holy Day had been approaching, so he made plans to come back and fix it up later.
At the same time, Gabriel Rodgers was plotting with his deputies. “You realize what this means, of course? Those followers will come and take the body, and then claim that he returned to life, just as he predicted. We can’t let that happen. We must stand guard. Shoot them on sight, do you understand me?”
So, together, they had set up a guard. There were always eight of them on duty, alternating all through the Holy Day. The sun was still below the horizon when it happened. Gabriel Roders himself was on guard, ready for the followers of Dustin McCabe to burst out of the woods. Suddenly, the ground began to shake. It was just as violent as the one that had happened the day of Dustin’s death. Gabriel looked around, and saw a servant of the Most High. His clothes were a white as snow, glowing like lightning. All of the guards, including Gabriel, felt themselves go stiff with terror. Tremors shook Gabriel’s body, and his eyes rolled into the back of his head. He dropped, almost as if it he were dead, not the person he was guarding.
The servant of God walked to the door of the mausoleum, which was barred and fortified so that it would take hours to break through. Instead, only raising a hand and knocking, the servant knocked down the wall. It became nothing more than a pile of rubble.
A little while later, Aaron came to the cemetery. He stopped when he saw the gaping hole in the mausoleum. By now, the guards had all woken up and ran off, afraid that the servant might come back and kill them.
Aaron walked to the mausoleum, not daring to give in to hope. He stepped over the pile of dust that was once a thick stone wall. In the coffin that would have held Dustin’s body was only a pile of wrapping. Then he saw the servant of the Most High on the other side of the coffin.
“Don’t be afraid,” the servant said. His voice was resonant, richer than a human’s ever could be. “I know you are looking for Dustin. But he is not here. He has gone to Gainseville, just as he said he would. Go and tell the rest of the followers.”
Aaron stumbled out of the mausoleum, then ran to the Bluebird Inn. He knocked on the door. Lukas answered it. “A servant!” Aaron said, “He’s not dead, he’s alive. He’s in Gainseville, like he said he was going to.”
“You’re talking nonsense,” Homer said. “I realize that seeing the body probably did you in, but please, be realistic. We saw Dustin die. Our dreams died with him.”
“I’m not crazy,” Aaron said adamantly. “I swear to you, it’s true.”
Lukas pushed past him, running down the stairs. Shame still gripped his heart, but he couldn’t believe that Dustin was actually alive again. He reached the cemetery, and saw the destroyed mausoleum. Awe filled him. The power that it would take to destroy that was incredible. He stepped inside. He saw no servant, but also saw no body. Only the wrapping, neatly folded and laid in the bottom of the coffin, as if they were covers for a bed. Confusion set in, and Lukas walked back to the Inn in a daze. He snapped out of when he noticed the looks he was getting. He looked at the hate laden glances, then hurried up to the room.
“It’s true,” he said once the others had let him in. “The body is gone.”
“It means nothing,” Homer declared. “Unless I see the living, breathing Dustin McCabe,  I have to believe that he died.”
Nigel shook his head. “I don’t know anymore.” They all fell silent again.
“Why would he let himself get killed?” Lukas murmured. “What would it accomplish? If he was the Marshal, he could have legions of warriors come from out of the sky and rescue him. Maybe we were just following a vain hope. A wild goose chase.”
“No,” Jonathan said loudly. Everyone looked at him. “I can’t believe you’re already forgetting everything he did while he was with us! Remember when he healed the cripple? The man had been lame since birth, and Dustin just talked to him, and he got up! Or how he cured your mother-in-law, Lukas, when the doctor said she was going to die? And his teachings! Not even those who had been educated in all of the law could refute anything he said, nor find anyway that he had broken it! Is your faith so small? I don’t know if Dustin’s come back to life, or if his body was taken, but I do know that he was who he said he was. Remember when you confessed your belief that he was sent from God, Lukas? Your claim was strong! And now you’re doubting him?”
“I’m not doubting him,” Lukas said meekly. “Not anymore, at least. Thank you, my friend.” Jonathan said nothing, just nodded, then looked away, tears glinting in his eyes.
The day wore on. As evening set, Homer pushed the door open. “I think the crowds are mostly gone. I’m going to get food. I’ll be back later.” He slipped out, closing the door behind him.
He has hardly gone for five minutes when another voice startled them. “Peace to you.” Everyone spun, then dropped to their knees when they saw Dustin McCabe. Smiling, Dustin raised them up. “It’s me,” he said. “Come, feel the rope burns on my neck, and the hole where they shot me to make sure I was dead.”
Each follower ran their fingers over the ragged skin. “My Lord,” Lukas said, dropping to his knees again. Dustin raised him up once more.
“You call me Lord, and rightfully so. The Father has sent me. And I am sending you. You will be my emissaries into the land. But now I must go. I will return again. I am sorry, but I cannot stay longer.” With that, he disappeared once again.
Suddenly, there was banging at the door. “I have food, let me in!” came Homer’s voice. They let him in, then exploded all at once, telling of how they had seen Dustin risen.
Homer waved his hands. “No. No, not until I see him for myself, not until I feel the burns and holes. I won’t believe.”
Lukas grew angry. “How can you say that? We all saw him!”
“And I didn’t,” Homer said. “For all I know, you all were hallucinating from lack of food or something.”
“Peace, Lukas,” Jonathan said, putting a hand on his friend’s shoulder. “We were not quick to believe either, when Aaron presented proof to us.”
Lukas resisted, then nodded. “You’re right.”
A week went by, all of them still living in fear. They slowly began to go out more, but were still afraid of Gabriel Rodgers and his men. In the evening of one of the days, Dustin appeared again. “Peace to you,” he said once again. “Homer, come here.” Homer stepped in front of him, and Dustin took his hands. “Feel the burns on my neck,” he said, the moved the hand up to the bullet hole in his head. “It is me. Stop doubting; believe.”
“My Lord and my God,” Homer whispered in awe.
“You have seen, and so you believe. But even more blessed are those who have not seen, but still believe,” Dustin replied.
Many people believe that was it, that Dustin McCabe then ascended into heaven to take his rightful place at the right hand of God. But that’s not quite right. He actually did quite a bit more on Earth before returning to the Father, but those acts aren’t recorded here.

This entire trilogy has been a relook at Jesus Christ’s life. This last bit was basically copied from the book of John. His next verse, though, I think ties back to what Jesus (Dustin) told Thomas (Homer). “But these are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing, you may have life in his name.” (John 20:31)
    The message that the New Testament writers were trying to get across is that you can only be saved by Jesus. His death was the only thing that could fully compensate for all our sin (see Editorial 1), and now that he’s done it, our fear of judgement is gone. Through Christ, we can stand before God blamelessly. Not on our own works, as they are dirty rags compared to Christ, but Christ’s redeeming work on the cross. That’s the message. That’s the beauty of what Christians celebrate on Good Friday and Easter. Apart from Christ, we are nothing, we deserve nothing. But in Christ, we are children of the King.
    I don’t know where you’re coming from in reading this. But whatever and wherever it might be, I urge you to take a moment and consider: Are you right before God? Do you have an assurance that you will be with him upon your death?
    I have put forward what I can, and I can do no more. I only hope you will take a moment to consider what I’ve said.

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