This is my Easter Sunday Greenville News column. (I haven’t had time to post it until now!)

He is Risen! Words have such power; power to heal, power to destroy. Power to give hope or dash it on the rocks. When asked what the worst thing I have ever seen in my medical career, I usually explain that telling someone bad news is the worst. Words are more terrible than any wound I have ever seen.

He is Risen! Those are words I can work with. When Jesus walked the earth, He brought light into this dark world. Certainly, He gave words of wisdom, words of love, instructions for compassion and kindness to the poor and broken. But He gave hope for more than that. He gave hope that in Him and through Him, all would be well. That the lost could be redeemed. That God sent His son as ambassador to the hurting, to reclaim them.

And yet, there came that day that He predicted. And on that day, all the hope was beaten and bloodied and hauled upon the worst instrument of torture the ingenious Romans, our cultural ancestors, could devise. The cross. The very word, crux, means torture, torment, misery even as it means the device upon which it was inflicted. There is where the hope went. Hope bled, was pierced and died.

I imagine the words going forth, down Golgotha, across the beautiful city of Jerusalem (may God give her peace). ‘He’s dead. They killed Him.’ Or to some, ‘He’s dead, we killed Him,’ which would be a more accurate statement for all believers to make, given that His purpose was more than kind aphorisms and gentle miracles. Given that his purpose was to die for us, rise, and leave behind the death and sin He took with Him, in the greatest smuggling operation in history

The bad news traveled through the heart of His mother, across mystified Roman soldiers, to every disciple, into every hidden closet. It traveled to the ones He had given sight, the ones He had helped to walk. To the girl He raised, to the ones who saw Lazarus step from the tomb in Bethany and to the very ones who drank His delicious wine at the wedding in Cana of Galilee. He is dead. He is no more. Hope is dead. Hope is no more. All the beauty and wonder He brought to us is a memory, along with so many bright things. All that remains is painful life, and death, and the few simple joys. Oh yes, and Rome, and laws we cannot keep.

How long those days must have been. They took hope down from the crux, they buried Him in a stone tomb. The one who brought hope and healing was wrapped, and lain on stone, behind stone, guarded by soldiers. As if hope were not lost enough, it was placed under arms, and hidden in the earth. Tears streamed down faces, hearts squeezed, stomach churned. Food had no taste. Tables were silent..

How wonderful then, the words ‘He is Risen.’ The words themselves were lightning in the night, sunrise, too good to be true. How unbelievable it must have been! How unprecedented that neither Rome, nor religious authorities, nor even death could hold Him down. And that if they could not hold him, then maybe He spoke the truth. That death need not be feared. That sin could be forgiven. That life could have meaning beyond hard work, beyond food and brief pleasures! He is Risen!

It’s why we love Easter. It’s why we love Jesus. Of course, even the most cynical will pause with respect at Jesus’ teachings on love, on the poor, on kindness. But the rest of us, who believe He is Risen, love Him because He spoke the truth. Because He came back in the most witnessed and recorded event of antiquity. Like a parent who keeps a promise: ‘I’ll be back in a few hours…everything will be fine.’ All of us children can live in hope again because He is Risen.

Death still stalks the earth. I see too much of it. Sin and evil still lurk, around corners and in hearts. We all know that. But they are transitory, disabled. They are powerless before the greatest words in all of history, the greatest light in all our darkness.

Having given all too much bad news in my life, with my eyes downcast, to people expecting the worst, I here and now give the best news ever given:

He is Risen! He is Risen indeed!

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