Air Date 4/12/15
The Romans and the Sanhedrin retaliate when Jesus’ body disappears from the tomb. On the third day after Jesus’ death, the early-morning sun rises over Jerusalem. A new dawn has arrived.
Mary Magdalene sneaks away from the safe house and hurries through the marketplace, eager to make it to Joseph’s tomb. Once she arrives, she stops dead in her tracks. The tomb is open, with nothing inside but the shroud Jesus wore on the cross, left perfectly folded. She must go back and tell the others. Out of breath, she returns to the safe house to wake Peter and John. “It’s happening,” she whispers, wide eyed.
Exhausted and distressed, Caiaphas sits in his office with Reuben and the other Temple guards, who try to explain what happened in the night – the warrior Angel broke the seal and moved the massive stone by itself. Caiaphas doesn’t believe a word they say – the Nazarene’s followers must have raided the tomb in an attempt to fake a resurrection – but he cannot allow the guard’s account to form a dangerous rumor within the city. He gives them strict orders to say they fell asleep on duty if asked, and hurls a pouch of coins at them. “I never want to see you again,” he says with fire in his eyes. Caiaphas instructs Reuben to find Jesus’ body immediately, and once the corpse is found, he will hang it outside the city walls so everyone knows once and for all, Jesus is dead.
Anxious to rid themselves of the recent chaos in Jerusalem, Pilate and Claudia pack their finest garments in preparation for their trip to the coast. Pilate is certain a journey to the Mediterranean is exactly what his wife needs to wipe her mind free of her nightmares and apparitions, but Claudia is adamant about her dreams. “The man you crucified was favored by the gods, and we shall all suffer for his execution,” she says with certainty. Pilate brushes off her nonsense and walks outside, where Caiaphas is waiting for him. The leader of the Sanhedrin thanks Pilate once again for his help with the Nazarene, and leads him to believe Jesus remains dead in the tomb. Pilate is pleased to hear the news, although he never believed there would be any other outcome. “When faced with a choice of being either firm or fair, I’ve learned that firm generally pays the greater dividend,” the Roman Governor says, satisfied with his work. With Pilate’s dismissal, Caiaphas leaves the palace; now that he is certain Pilate knows nothing of the raided tomb, he must work quickly to resolve the issue. Just as Caiaphas exits, a Roman guard from the tomb arrives with news for Pilate. The guard trembles with fear, for what he has to say may not go over well with his firm leader.
Caiaphas sits peacefully in his sacred ritual bath, praying. Suddenly, Pilate hovers over a naked Caiaphas. “What have I done to deserve such disrespect?” Pilate asks the Jewish leader who lied to him about the Nazarene’s tomb. Terrified, Caiaphas explains he planned to take care of the matter without disrupting Pilate’s travel plans, but Pilate remains infuriated. “This Jesus cult grows stronger by the hour,” he barks, towering above Caiaphas. “Soon it will draw every crackpot and revolutionary into Jerusalem – with the sole aim of challenging us all.” Caiaphas assures him guards are already searching for the Galileans’ hiding spot, but Pilate no longer has any faith in Caiaphas. “Get me that information immediately and I will deal with this matter once and for all,” Pilate orders.
Peter, John and Mary Magdalene trek through the desert to return to the tomb. Just as Mary before, Peter and John cannot believe their eyes – it’s empty. “I don’t understand,” John says, bewildered, looking at the vacant stone he laid Jesus on himself. “How is this possible?” Heavy with guilt and horror, Peter concludes the authorities must have removed Jesus’ body to wipe out all trace, but John is not convinced. “It is the third day,” he says to Peter with intensity in his eyes. “Do you dare to believe?” Peter asks his fellow disciple, and they both flee. Mary crouches beside the stone, silently sobbing into the bloody shroud. A gentle voice calls out her name, and Mary slowly raises her head to see Jesus, without bruises or bloodstains, standing right before her. “Rabbi,” she gasps, her eyes brimming with tears.
At the safe house, the disciples try to piece the puzzle together. John speaks of the prophecy once again: “The messiah would be led like a lamb to slaughter, pierced for our transgressions, die beside the wicked, and be laid to rest with the rich.” All of these things have happened in the last three days, John points out, so it is believable Jesus has risen, as promised. Simon is certain the Romans will soon be after them, and presses Peter for a decision; do they stay or leave the city? Mary Magdalene bursts through the door, gasping for air. “I saw him,” she tells the disciples. “He spoke to me as clearly as I’m speaking to you.” As Mary races upstairs to tell Mother Mary the news, the disciples discuss Mary’s claims. Can it be true? Again, they look to their new leader, Peter, for answers. “I think I feel pain at his absence and great guilt because I wasn’t with him at the end,” Peter says with tears in his eyes. “I so want to tell him I’m sorry.”
Suddenly a flame ignites inexplicably, and Peter feels a hand on his shoulder. “Peace be with you,” a voice tells Peter, who looks up and sees Jesus standing in an immaculate robe. In complete disbelief, Peter touches Jesus – he’s real. Each disciple embraces Jesus and examines his pristine condition. “Everything written about me in the Laws of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled,” Jesus instructs his followers. An abrupt knock breaks the mystified silence, causing everyone to freeze in fear it could be the Romans. Simon peeks out the window – it’s Thomas, the 12th disciple! They let him in with excitement, eager for everyone to be together once again. But just as quickly as he appeared, Jesus vanishes. The other disciples explain to Thomas he was just here, but Thomas is doubtful. “Are you playing a sick joke on me because I’m the last to get back?” he asks, feeling betrayed. The others assure him it is no joke, and urge him to go to the tomb to see for himself.
The Roman guard who snitched leads the Governor and his men to the hideout of the other guards. With Pilate’s signal, Roman soldiers brutally and mercilessly club the deserting guards. “One thing I cannot abide above all else – disloyalty,” Pilate sneers as he looks down on the guards who disappointed him.
Reuben guides Caiaphas down a dark, rancid corridor, both men cloaked for disguise. Reuben shows Caiaphas a corpse that does not belong to Jesus, but does have similar wounds on the body. “People will take him for the Nazarene if you tell them it’s him,” Reuben says, but Caiaphas is not willing to lie any longer – “I can’t risk of being accused of orchestrating a fraud to deceive our nation.”
After examining the tomb himself, Thomas returns to the safe house to tell the others the Temple guards are re-sealing the tomb to pretend Jesus’ body remains inside. Thomas, however, remains doubtful that Jesus has risen. Suddenly a voice calls out Thomas’ name from behind him, and he turns to see Jesus with his palms upward, showing his crucifixion wounds. In shock, Thomas drops to his knees and lowers his head in shame of doubting his Lord. “Blessed are they who have not seen me, and still believe,” Jesus tells him, and disappears once again. As Mother Mary and Mary Magdalene are downstairs, the door is kicked down and Roman soldiers flood the room. In an instant, the disciples depart the safe house with the Romans right on their heels. The Romans chase the disciples through the city, and they are forced to split up. Peter orders Thomas to hurry to the city gate, where he will meet him and the others. Suddenly Boaz grabs Peter and darts down a dark, narrow alley, offering some temporary safety. Peter explains his plan to escape to Galilee, and Boaz volunteers his help. They make their way to the closed-off city gate, where the others are waiting for Peter. Boaz and his freedom fighters hurl stones and firebombs at the Roman soldiers, who are forced to disperse. The disciples sneak out of the gate unnoticed in the midst of the mayhem. Cornelius reports back to Pilate, telling him the Nazarene’s men did not escape with the corpse, but it’s not at the hideout either. Pilate has had enough. “We are Rome,” he says with conviction. “It’s time we shut this story down.”
Standing in the Temple courtyard, Annas scolds Caiaphas about his recent alliance with Pilate. “The High Priest maintains a delicate balance between influencing the Governor and joining forces with him against our people,” Annas lectures. Joseph storms in, furious. “First you instigate the execution of a harmless preacher and then desecrate my tomb to interfere with the corpse,” he shouts at Caiaphas. Caiaphas combats Joseph’s claims, but Joseph remains angry. “You extinguished a small Jewish flame by smothering it with Roman oil,” he tells Caiaphas before leaving. Feeling disapproving eyes from all around, Caiaphas finds a quiet place in the Temple to work. Leah, feeling invisible to her husband, joins him. She tries to console Caiaphas, who feels belittled by Annas. “He forgets that I’m High Priest,” Caiaphas tells his wife. “I think perhaps his daughter forgets sometimes, too,” he says, looking at Leah with saddened eyes. She assures Caiaphas he has both her support and her father’s, pulling him into a warm embrace. The moment is quickly interrupted when Reuben enters with alarming news. Two Temple guards from the tomb have been murdered, and the others are missing.
Peter and the other disciples make it to the Sea of Galilee, where they lie exhausted on a fishing boat. Despite being an expert fisherman, Peter has trouble collecting any fish at all. A man from the shore calls out to them to cast the nets on the right-hand side, but Peter is certain it won’t make a difference. The man insists; they throw the net over the right side of the boat, and suddenly it is full of fish. They look more closely at the man on shore – It’s Jesus! Peter jumps into the water and swims quickly to shore, ecstatic to see his Lord. “Peter, do you love me?” Jesus asks, and Peter confirms he does. “Then follow me,” Jesus says as he places his hand on the heart of his devoted disciple. Jesus and Peter join the other disciples, where Jesus inspires them to keep the faith. “Go back to Jerusalem and wait,” he instructs his followers. “Only then will you be ready to spread the word.” Peter is nervous he will not be able to rise to the challenge, but Jesus urges him to be strong: “Do this for me, Peter, and one day you will die for me.” Peter, no longer a coward, is ready. With one final message to preach the gospel to all creation, Jesus walks up a mountain as clouds begin to tumble into one another and wind blows fiercely. A flash of bright light explodes, and suddenly, Jesus is gone.
Pilate stands alone in his quarters when Caiaphas enters, angry about his murdered men. Pilate cuts him off quickly. “The Roman Empire prospers, Caiaphas, not because it consumes lesser civilizations but because it embraces and forms partnerships with them,” he says. “At the highest level that can only happen in a spirit of mutual trust.” Pilate brings in the Roman guards who abandoned their post at the tomb, and has each of them strangled to death for Caiaphas to witness. “Consider this a lesson in civic administration,” the Governor tells the shaken High Priest. After all, Pilate is firm, not fair.
WATCH FULL Episode 2 “The Body Is Gone” >>HERE
Episode 3 “The Spirit Arrives” airs Sunday April 19th on NBC