This is a story about a baby who was born right in the middle of human history. He grew up to be a good boy and a perfect man. His name was Jesus. You have probably heard his name before. Did you know that he knows your name, too? He knows your name, and your face, and everything about you. Jesus knows you because he loves you. Even before you were born he knew you and he loved you.
One night, thousands of years ago, Jesus walked into a garden for you. He fell on his knees and he cried great, soul-shaking sobs because there is so much suffering in this world, and he felt all of it. So much pain and sorrow and wickedness and sin.
You see, there is a thing called evil that lurks in every human heart. We all have it. Evil makes us scared sometimes, and angry sometimes. It tells us that we are bad people, that God doesn’t love us because we are bad people, that nobody believes we could ever do anything good, and that when we die God wouldn’t want someone bad like us to live with him. That is what evil whispers to us in our hearts. And after a while, we start to believe evil. And we do bad things, and say bad things because evil wants us to, because evil knows doing and saying bad things will make us more unhappy. It happens to all of us. Even when we are determined to be good and stronger, sometimes evil wins out and makes us suffer.
And that night in the garden, Jesus felt the pain and the fear and despair that evil creates in us. “Father,” he said, “I see that your children are suffering. But is there any other way to heal them?” But of course he knew there was no other way. So he thought about you—your name, your face, how you love to sing and dance and play. He thought about how much you would suffer because of evil, and he decided that he would root it out of your heart, and my heart, and every person’s heart. He would take all the evil and drink it up like a big cup of poison.
And it would kill him. After the garden Jesus was arrested and taken to prison. He was whipped and spat on and mocked, and the stars wept as they watched. Then he was nailed to a cross to die. They used big strong nails so Jesus couldn’t escape, because they didn’t understand that it was not nails at all that were holding Jesus on the cross: it was love, which is much stronger than even the strongest metal. And there on the cross, Jesus died.
The moment that he died, the sky turned cold and black as if it could feel no light. The rocks and the mountains ripped apart as if they could feel no unity. The water thrashed and whirled as if it could feel no peace. People around the world hid in their houses. And it continued like this for days. The whole planet felt his death.
Then on the morning of the third day, something changed. The sun peeped over the horizon. The grasses sang together. The bees warbled in their hive. The oceans lapped gently upon the rocks and sands: He is risen. He is risen. He is risen.
And he was risen. It is the greatest miracle that has ever happened in the history of all the world. Jesus had died, but now he was alive again. But people didn’t know it yet. All they knew was that the sun was back out. But soon they would know.
A girl named Mary was a friend of Jesus. And she was missing him. So she went to the tomb so she could see his dead body and cry and feel sad. But his body was not in the tomb. And his body was not dead. Instead, Jesus was standing completely alive, outside in the sun. And life glowed bright like the sun around him. The tomb had become a garden. The thorns on his head had bloomed into colorful flowers. Everywhere he stepped, there was life.
Mary reached out to touch him, to see if he was really real. And he was. But there were holes in his hands and in his feet. And she cried not because she was sad but because she was happy and because of those holes. Because she knew that those holes meant he had written her name and your name and my name on his palms, on his feet, and in his heart. Because he loved her and he loves us. We were part of him now. And he was anything but evil. He is Good. And he is risen. And so can we. Nothing will ever be the same.