This is my Easter column in the Greenville News. May you have a deeper understanding of the message of the resurrection of Jesus.
Easter Sunday is the day we too easily make Jesus the God of good people, the God of nice boys and girls and proper men and women, with freshly pressed clothes and baskets of candy, who go home for nice dinners. The people who know all of the right Sunday-School answers to life’s questions.
However, having spent my medical career seeing a lot of wounded, broken people, I have a message this Easter, whether you’ll be in church or not; whether you’ll have chocolate bunnies or just be happy for food. Whether you have a new dress or an old pair of jeans. Because the miracle of Easter is for all; and especially for those who are longing for hope and love.
Here’s what you need to know. The resurrection was for ancient alcoholics and 21st century Methamphetamine addicts. It was for the prostitutes of antiquity and the sex-workers of the Internet. That magnificent event was meant to heal the bitter slave holders and oppressors of times past and the manipulative money-launderers of modern banking scams. The Man from Galilee died for physical sicknesses of the past that left men and women beggars, and for the schizophrenia that leaves people babbling beneath underpasses today. He died for the grief, depression and anxiety that we now treat only with pills and more pills.
Jesus’ act was for all. For the Roman soldiers who crucified Him and for the terrorist bombers of our time. It was for the poor and rich, for the starving and the obese. He died and rose for environmentalists and litterers, for progressives and fundamentalists. It was for those whose sin is pride and for those whose pride was long ago lost in professional failure. It was for those who rob from the poor, and for the vicious poor who use poverty as an excuse to steal and murder. It was for the married and divorced, the widowed and the engaged, the orphan and the beloved son or daughter. It is for the believer, but it remains available for the ones who can’t believe; at least not yet.
Jesus came for scientists and simpletons; for academics and tradesmen. He made no difference between them, for all were ultimately in need of the same saving work. He came for the religious leaders who condemned him, for wayward pastors, embezzling televangelists, abusive priests, patient missionaries, non-committed universalists and the martyred founders of the Church. Indeed, He came to give the same clarity to all. The clarity that He was the way and that by believing and seeking Him they could find their longings answered and be re-born in Him and in His love. His intent was for His followers to continue in kind, and embrace everyone else with the love they received, offering them not sterile, disinterested ‘tolerance,’ but much more. They were to spread His offer of healing, forgiveness, redemption, transformation and eternal life.
Consider this. In an age of endless demographic groups used for politics and marketing, there is no demographic for whom Jesus did not die and live again. There is no sin or affliction, no shame or personal abuse, no history, no wound, no lie, no faithlessness, no cruelty endured or inflicted that did He did not take to the cross. Nothing, and no person, that He neglected in His universe changing, soul-saving, death-ending, time-shattering, sin-atoning act.
This is harder for us to accept that we might like to admit. It’s one thing for Jesus to die and return for me; but quite another that he did it for someone I dislike, disdain or with whom I share no commonality. And yet, that is the salient point. The bruised, bloodied and resurrected point. He is our commonality, who unites us in redeeming our common sin.
Whomever we are, we bring our wounds and sins to this new day, this resurrection day; sometimes hidden beneath our pinks, greens and blues, suppressed (even in church) by the right words and smiles. Happily, whatever we woke up bearing, whatever personal agony, whatever tomb we seem to dwell in or be destined for, this morning there is unbelievable news.
Jesus took our place, Jesus took our pain and guilt and sorrow and fear. Jesus took our disease and wounds and very mortality and condemnation up to the cross, down to the grave, and left it behind. And whatever we are, or did, or bear upon us, these words remain relevant.
He is risen. So are we if only we desire and accept.