As a pastor, it was one of those moments I lived for. This particular Saturday was a work day at the church. Members were busy cleaning, fixing, and generally spiffing up the building. Laura, an older woman who had attended our church for a while, had never come to understand fully and embrace the Good News of Jesus. She asked if I would explain to her again the message of salvation. We went to my office and I gave her a pamphlet I had written for the purpose of communicating the Gospel. We began to talk through the pamphlet together.
Laura was engaged in the conversation, and very intent on understanding who God is and what Jesus had done for her at the cross. I explained the necessity of Jesus’ death for her on the cross, that He paid the penalty for Laura’s sins, and that three days later He rose from the dead, proving that He is who He said He was. As I explained each point, she pored over the pamphlet, asking questions to make sure she understood.
As I began to explain the importance of believing what Jesus had done for her, I read a phrase that I had read many times over the years. “It is important to believe that Jesus died, was buried, rose again, and is alive today.”
Laura grabbed my arm and said, “Say that again.”
I repeated, “It’s important to believe that Jesus died for you and was buried—“
“No,” Laura said, still grasping my arm, “the other thing you just said, say it again.”
Confident I knew what she wanted to hear again, I said, with emphasis, “Jesus rose again!”
Squeezing my arm tighter, she said, “no, the other thing!”
Surprised, I thought, “What other thing?” I looked again at the phrase I had just read to her. I slowly read the whole thing, “It is important to believe that Jesus died… was buried… rose again… and is alive today.”
“That’s it!” She shouted. “He’s alive today? Are you serious? Is He really alive today?”
Amazed at her revelation, I said, “That’s what you wanted to hear again? That He’s alive today?”
Suddenly, like flipping a switch, I saw the lights of understanding illuminate her mind, “He’s alive today?”
“Yes!” I said, “He’s alive today!”
“I had no idea,” she said. “That changes everything! That affects my whole life. My husband needs to hear this! I’m certain he doesn’t know it.”
Then, hearing someone in the hallway, she rushed to the door. “Kristel!” she said, pulling the door open. “Did you know that Jesus is alive today?”
“Well, of course,” the teenager replied.
Seeing another girl down the hall, Laura called out, “Loree, did you know that Jesus is alive?”
She ran up to the girls’ mother. “Sue,” Laura said breathlessly, “Did you know that Jesus is alive?”
Sue, sensing that Laura finally understood, said, “Yes! Oh, Laura, He is alive! Isn’t that wonderful?”
The two of them grabbed hands and jumped up and down with excitement. Laura kept saying, “He’s alive! He’s alive today! And everything is different!”
I stood there in wonder, thanking God for the miracle that just transpired. And I realized again how important it is to communicate the resurrection and its impact on our daily lives. I almost missed the moment, but Laura persisted, insisting that I “say it again.”
When she realized that Jesus is still alive, the resurrection became real to her. A truth that is at once simple and profound, the resurrection makes our faith real and alive – like Jesus. And yet, we run the risk of missing that life-altering truth, and its joy, when it becomes so familiar.
Ever since my encounter with Laura, I seek to make clear the truth of the resurrection when I share the good news of Jesus with others. The resurrection sets Christianity apart from all other religions. With Laura I say, “Because Jesus is alive today, everything is different!”
Jim Rahtjen is a pastor living in Glen Ellyn.