By / Apr 15

In this episode, Brent and Lindsay discuss President Biden saying Putin is committing genocide in Ukraine, the Brooklyn subway shooting, and a Christian who escaped from a reeducation camp in Xinjiang. They also talk about several resources to prepare our hearts for Good Friday and Easter. 

ERLC Content


  1. Biden says Putin is committing genocide in Ukraine
  2. Frank James, suspect in Brooklyn subway shooting, discussed violence in YouTube clips
  3. Christian Detainee Who Escaped Xinjiang Camp | SBC resolution


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  • Dobbs Resource Page Prayer Guide | Right now, the Supreme Court is considering a major Mississippi abortion case called Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The ERLC and other pro-life organizations filed an amicus brief in this case urging the Supreme Court to overturn the disatrous Roe v. Wade decision. Members of our team also joined pro-life advocates on the steps of the Supreme Court when oral arguments were heard last December. As we approach the Supreme Court’s final decision in June of this year, it’s important for Christians to pray for this landmark case and begin preparing our churches to serve vulnerable women and children in a potential post-Roe world. Download our free prayer guide at
  • Dobbs Resource Page | Many Christians are aware that an important case about abortion is being decided at the Supreme Court this June. But for many, this case is confusing and wrapped in a lot of legal jargon. The ERLC wants to help with that, so we’ve created a resource page that will help you and your church understand what this case means, what could happen if Roe v. Wade is overturned, and how your church can prepare to serve vulnerable women and children in the aftermath. To learn more about the Dobbs case and how you can pray, visit
By / Apr 13

How we face death, whether in fear or in hope, is a reflection of how we have lived. Back in February, I was asked by an elderly church member to visit her neighbor who was dying. The neighbor was in her 70s, and hospice began visiting to help her in her final days. This was the end. I was told the woman was a believer in Jesus, but had not been to church in some time and didn’t have a pastor. Of course, I was happy to go visit her.

As I drove up to her little mobile home to see her, I was reminded of Ecclesiastes 7:2, “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, since that is the end of all mankind, and the living should take it to heart.”

Will we face death’s reality? 

Visiting with this woman was a very powerful experience for me. Her mobile home was small and crowded with items collected over a lifetime. I was welcomed in by a care nurse who was there to tend to her needs. He pointed me down the short hallway, and I could hear the television blaring with sounds from an old game show rerun. As I walked into the room, she was sitting up in bed halfway. Medical supplies, blankets, and other items took up the space around her. She heard I was coming from the neighbor who called me, so when I introduced myself, she was prepared.

In these situations, you don’t always know what to expect. Sometimes, people don’t want to see a pastor that they’ve never met before. They’re angry about dying. They know what the visit means. And their fear can turn into dismissal or lead them to lash out. The reaction can range from mild politeness to indifference to rudeness to anger. So, the short walk down the hall found me bracing myself for the possibilities of the exchange. 

When it comes to dying in the American context — one that seeks to hold on to this life with every drop of strength we have — we often reflect the first lines of the Dylan Thomas poem, 

“Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

We rightly see death as the final act of this physical life. As we fear it, we may try to put it out of our minds, loudly declaring all talk of it as unnecessarily morbid. Or, we fight it with everything we can muster, viewing the surrender to death’s inevitability as some kind of defeat. We are taught to uphold youth as the ideal, to do all we can to push away the effects of aging, and to see those who are close to dying as those who have little to contribute to our lives of production and self-fulfillment. The dying are to be cared for as an act of compassion from the living, but that final act of life giving way to death is often shunned by those of us who don’t want to face what is coming. This fear is described in Hebrews 2:14-15 as being manufactured by the devil, who holds the power of death and keeps all people in slavery to the fear of death. 

Met by God’s grace

So, I didn’t quite know what I would face as I walked down the dark hall to meet this woman who lay dying. Would she welcome my words and prayers? Would she be raging against the death closing in? I prayed that God would help me prepare her for her death and the journey to eternal life. 

In my visits with her over the next 10 days or so, I encountered a remarkable manifestation of God’s grace. After my first visit, I went out to my car and tweeted out some thoughts of reflection. I don’t normally do this after a time of ministry, but tears filled my eyes as I met with her, and I sensed the profound presence of God already there, helping prepare her for her final journey. I wanted to remember the holy:

I just sat with a dying woman. She was going down a list making calls to old friends to say goodbye. We talked about life, hurts, and her faith in Jesus and forgiveness. She said God is a fisherman and He caught her, and even though she tried to swim away, He reels her back in.

She was very peaceful. As we talked, she would cry at times. She isn’t a church member. A lady in our church knew her and asked if I could visit with her. We held hands and prayed. I read Scripture to her. As we talked about God’s love for her, tears fell from her eyes. Grace.

The doctors only give her a few days. They sent her home to die. She says she gets scared sometimes, but then she prays and the peace returns. As she is calling her friends all across the country to tell them that she’s dying, they cry, but she says, “Let’s share some memories together.”

Before I left, I hugged her. She thanked me for stopping by, but really, I was the one who was grateful. Her body is failing but her mind and spirit are clear. It was an honor to sit with her and hear her talk about her life. I told her I would see her soon on the other side.

It’s the most real thing there is, to sit with someone dying. Just to be with them, with their mind firing and laughter and tears and words and stories and to know that in just a short time the flicker of life will be gone. But, we hope in the God who raises the dead.

I went back to visit her a couple more times. She was so grateful. We talked and prayed, and she told me stories. She said she didn’t want to die, but, as I mentioned in my tweet, that Jesus was a fisherman and though she tried to wiggle off his hook, he caught her and was now reeling her in. She decided to pass that on to the pastor who would do her funeral that was already planned by her extended family back home in the Midwest. She never married and had no children, but she spoke of her nieces and nephews and the times they had together years ago. She continued to work down the list of people to call to say her goodbyes and remember the good times they’d had together. I sat there with her while she had one call and heard her congested laughter through the fluid building up in her lungs.

I told her that these days were a great gift to her and that she was dying well. She cried a lot, but would immediately say that her hope was in Jesus. We talked about how Jesus raises the dead and how she would live again. She believed that. With each visit, she was being prepared for burial and her spirit was growing in hope for the resurrection to come.

I visited her the last time the night before she died. Her physical light was dying, but an inner light was emerging. The list of friends to call was put away. All the calls had been made. She had trouble talking now as the fluid filled her lungs and she couldn’t cough it out. But, she thanked me with tears welling up in her eyes. She thanked me for being there with her, for talking with her and praying with her. She said again that Jesus caught her and was bringing her home. 

This woman who had not been to church in many years was experiencing God’s presence and hope in a profound way as she lay dying, even as Jesus overcame her fear. The full text of Hebrews 2:14-15 is, “Now since the children have flesh and blood, He [Jesus] too shared in their humanity, so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” I saw that happening before my eyes.

As they lay dying 

“As I Lay Dying” is a Southern gothic novel by William Faulkner that I haven’t read, but like most Southerners (especially if you are from Mississippi, as I am) do with Faulkner, I have pretended to know about it. The title comes from a line in Homer’s “Odyssey,” Book XI. Odysseus travels to the Underworld and meets Agamémnon, who tells how he was killed by the hands of his adulterous wife who would not close his eyes as he lay dying: “As I lay dying, the woman with the dog’s eyes would not close my eyes as I descended into Hades.”

Now, Agamemnon is angry about the betrayal of his wife. He’s descended into hell, but he also expresses anger over her not even closing his eyes in death. Not only did she kill him, but she didn’t even give him the courtesy of helping him die the right way. Faulkner’s use of this line for the title of the book — that I haven’t read — has served as a bit of a warning to me that when death comes (and it’s coming for us all), running from it doesn’t help. And not helping someone die well with mercy, grace, and care by ministering to them in Jesus’ name doesn’t really empower them to rage against the dying light as though they themselves had power over death. This approach of denial can often just distance them from the hope they really need.

But, as we now encounter Holy Week culminating in Good Friday and Easter Sunday, we are reminded with force that Jesus, through dying, defeated the power of death and the grave. He rose from the empty tomb and gives new life to all who believe. We need neither run from death in fear nor fight it in our own strength. Instead, we can persevere in hope as long as God gives us breath and then prepare for the new life to come. That isn’t a morbid surrender to death in defeat, but rather, it is true hope in the one who values and sanctifies our lives. He is with us all the way to death, and then carries us beyond into eternity and the resurrection of the dead. 

I now realize that as I was helping my friend prepare to meet with Jesus upon death, she was helping me meet with him now. He was there with her as she lay dying, and by being with her in her suffering and figuratively helping her to close her eyes in death, my eyes were more fully opened to the power of the resurrection of Jesus for this life — and for the life to come.

By / Apr 1

Editor’s Note: The day that Christ died on the cross was the darkest of days for the disciples. They had put all of their hope in this Jesus, and now it seemed to be for nothing. What they didn’t know was that the cross paved the way for their freedom, their joy, and their future. May these meditations about the truth of the resurrection cause your heart to soar in wonder at what Christ has purchased for us. 

1. The resurrection is the core of the Christian message and should never be neglected or assumed.

Sometimes today, when we hear the gospel preached, the focus is on the cross. The resurrection is often ignored, assumed, or mentioned only in passing. In contrast, the preaching recorded in the book of Acts emphasized the resurrection of Jesus, and barely mentioned his death. The apostles were preoccupied with the resurrection and emphasized it much more than the cross.

Sadly, the church only seems to get excited about the resurrection once a year at Easter time. In reality, every Sunday should be Resurrection Sunday. The reason why the early church began to meet on the first day of the week was to celebrate Jesus’s defeat of death. Imagine what church would be like if we consciously gathered every week to celebrate the resurrection?

2. Belief in Jesus’s physical resurrection is the defining doctrine of Christianity.

It is surely a remarkable thing that every Christian denomination—from the Orthodox to the Catholic, from the Pentecostal to the Reformed Baptist—all believe one simple truth: the tomb was empty. There is very little else we all agree on! Only some liberals deny the physical resurrection of Jesus. Surely they thereby forfeit the right to call themselves Christians at all.

In my book, Raised With Christ, I offered the following definition of a Christian: a Christian is someone who believes in the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ, and lives in light of the implications of that event.

This is based on Paul’s clear promise: “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:9, emphasis added).

3. The resurrection demonstrated to the whole universe the deity of Jesus and God’s love for him.

Jesus was, “declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead” (Rom. 1:4).

It is the resurrection of Jesus that reveals his true nature to all who will see: “God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance . . . and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:30-31).

4. Without the resurrection, there would have been no church at all.

After Jesus’s arrest and death, the disciples were lost, helpless, and afraid. Peter denied Jesus, whilst the rest ran away. It is hard to conceive of anything other than the resurrection of Jesus that would have led to this rag-tail bunch of people sharing the message of Jesus in such a way that it grew into the largest religious movement ever known to man.

Without their unwavering confidence in Jesus’s resurrection, would the disciples have risked everything, and in many cases been killed for their faith? People do die all the time for falsehoods that they themselves genuinely believe to be true. It is, however, impossible to believe that all of the disciples would die for something they knew to be a deliberate deception.

The church did not create the resurrection stories; instead, the resurrection stories created the church.

5. Our neglect of Jesus’s resurrection may be one of the reasons our gospel preaching is so powerless.

Spurgeon examined the preaching of his day and felt the reason for its lack of power was its lack of emphasis on the resurrection. Spurgeon determined to emphasize the message of the resurrection, and saw thousands of conversions as a result. If we choose to neglect the preaching of the resurrection, should we be surprised if we don’t see similar results?

When Paul spoke about the gospel, he always meant the announcement of the glorious victory of the risen King. It is this gospel that is “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16).

6. The resurrection purchased our justification.

When you ask most Christians about justification, they move straight to the cross of Jesus paying the price for our sins. But if justification simply means an absence of guilt, then we have a blank slate and have to spend the rest of our lives worrying about if we will mess it up again. Paul tells us in the contrary: “He was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification” (Rom. 4:25).

What this means is that when Jesus rose again he was declared to be righteous—not just lacking any sin, but embodying holiness. The credit of Jesus’s perfection outweighed the debt of our sins. And now, the Christian is counted as righteous. Not “just as if I had never sinned” so much as “just as if I had already lived a holy life.”

Without this wonderful truth, we will not fully grasp the joy of salvation. Jesus was our obedience substitute during his life, our punishment substitute in his death, and our rebirth substitute in his resurrection.

7. The resurrection gives us the joy of knowing that Christ is with us today!

He has promised that he will be with us to the end of time. This changes everything. A dead hero in the grave is no help to us. But a risen Savior in heaven gives us great confidence!

Because the tomb is empty and Jesus is on the throne, we can know for sure that we will be victorious irrespective of what is happening in today’s world. Jesus said, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18).

8. The resurrection gives us hope that goes beyond the grave.

We live in a broken world. Every Christian will at some point in their lives know the pain of grieving for a loved one. When Paul told us not to ‘”grieve as others do who have no hope” (1 Thess. 4:13), he did not mean that we would not experience sadness.

But because Jesus conquered the grave, we have confidence that one day we too will rise, and so meet both Jesus and our believing loved ones again. This changes everything when we come face to face with death.

9. The resurrection unites every Christian with the life-giving force that raised Jesus from the dead.

It is through the resurrection that, “the last Adam became a life-giving spirit” (1 Cor. 15:45). Paul tells us, “the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you” (Rom. 8:11).

This amazing power is available to transform, equip, and empower us: “What is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead” (Eph. 1:19-20).

10. Because of the resurrection, we can know that Jesus is personally coming back to judge and rule the world.

It is a source of great joy for the Christian that Jesus will return. But it should also cause great concern for those who are living estranged from him. Because of the resurrection, we can be sure that this same Jesus will return again:

The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead. (Acts 17:30-31)

This article originally appeared at

By / Apr 14

“Jesus doesn’t put the word ‘self’ in front of ‘identity,’ but in front of ‘denial.’”

Those words, spoken by Sam Allberry last week during a panel discussion at The Gospel Coalition’s National Conference, gripped me. In our current culture, saturated with quests for self-esteem and self-definition, even the church sometimes falls into the trap of focusing on individual ambition and gratifying one’s own desires rather than walking a path of holiness and sacrifice. Whether it’s talking about how you can have your best life now or advancing the idea that following Jesus makes everything better, too many Christian leaders today seem to conflate secular notions of fulfillment with biblical benchmarks for human flourishing—a trend that is not without consequence.

“The gospel framework of repentance and faith is true for everyone, and we must understand the cost of discipleship for each of us,” Allberry explained. “Jesus says you must lose your life to save it. This means that at some point in your Christian discipleship, it will feel like Jesus is trying to kill you. It is going to feel like losing your life to follow Him. We all need to recover that understanding and ask how it applies to our own lives.”

This message was as clarifying as it was convicting. And although Allberry shared this in the context of a discussion on same-sex attraction and gender identity, I think his words offer both challenge and encouragement for us all no matter our specific circumstance. We each wrestle with unmet needs, unfulfilled desires and unanswered prayers, and in the midst of searching for answers in difficult seasons of life, it can be easy to lose sight of our unique calling to take up our cross and follow Christ wherever he may lead.

And as we encounter Holy Week and reflect on Christ’s death and resurrection, I am reminded in a new way of three significant truths:

Jesus suffered and died for our sin.

“The answer to any bodily brokenness is ultimately the broken body of Jesus,” said Allberry. “This is our only hope of wholeness. There has never been a greater body dysphoria than what Jesus experienced on the cross when the one without sin became sin for us.”

Even in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus experienced intense anguish, expressing grief and distress at the prospect of his pending crucifixion and separation from God the Father. Jesus repeatedly asked God to “take this cup” from him, a prayer that seemingly went unanswered. Yet in the hours before his crucifixion, in the face of agony, even as he was sweating drops of blood, Jesus demonstrated perfect obedience and total surrender to the plan of God—a plan that required his death on the cross. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21).

We are not our own.

“The Jesus charting the course for you is the Jesus who loves you more than you love yourself and knows you better than you know yourself,” said Allberry. “The question to ask is, ‘Are you willing to trust Jesus and to follow where He leads, wherever that may be?’”

May we not mistake God’s apparent silence for his absence, and may our prayers be rooted in a desire to carry out his will rather than our own.

As we grow in Christian discipleship, we understand more deeply what it means to experience Christ’s redemptive power and surrender to his design—trusting him with our eternal destiny, as well as with other areas of our lives here on earth, even when it means going against everything culture seems to celebrate. At the heart of this discussion is the sovereignty and supremacy of Christ. In his Kingdom, we’re called to serve him as our Master and Lord, as evidenced when the Apostle Paul admonishes believers, “You are not your own; you were bought at a price” (1 Cor. 6:19-20).

The Church must function as the body of Christ.

“The church must provide the kind of family and community that the Bible calls us to be,” Allberry explained. “We all depend on the grace and generosity of God, and therefore the church must cultivate a culture of openness about the struggles and weaknesses we experience in the Christian life.”

As believers, we’re commanded to, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2). Yet, the church has sometimes become a place where additional burdens are placed on those who are already weak and weary. We all need community, but we cannot carry each other’s burdens if our primary posture is one of hypocrisy and condemnation, rather than authenticity and compassion.

We’ll likely hear a lot about the body of Christ in the coming days, and Allberry’s words offer a hopeful challenge for each of us. As we reflect on Good Friday and contemplate Christ’s ultimate sacrifice on the cross, may we be filled with a renewed sense of wonder and gratitude for his transforming power in our lives. May we fully embrace the freedom found in the truth he embodied, even when it involves self-denial.

May we not mistake God’s apparent silence for his absence, and may our prayers be rooted in a desire to carry out his will rather than our own. May we cling to God’s promise to walk with us every step of the way, living from a posture of victory one day at a time, even when this means learning to live with unanswered questions. May we also deepen our commitment to operate as the body of Christ, bearing one another’s burdens however daunting the road ahead appears.

Most importantly, may we be reminded of Jesus Christ’s invitation to, “Take up your cross and follow me” (Matt. 16:24), an invitation that requires absolute surrender and a continual dying to ourselves as God conforms each of us to his perfect image. After all, it is only in death that we can truly experience life—on this earth and for eternity.

By / Mar 25

“I just don’t like Good Friday,” a worship leader once told me, “It’s such a downer. Easter Sunday is so much more fun!”

Most evangelicals are not as honest about their Good Friday reservations, but we should admit that we don’t do lament very well. We like our worship upbeat, celebratory and victorious. I once attended a Good Friday service that resembled more of a junior high pep rally than the historic church holiday remembering the gruesome and unjust death of our Lord.

Christianity is, of course, a story of triumph. The Son of God became flesh, dwelt among his people, yielded to the wrath of the Father on the cross, and defeated sin, death and the grave. Christianity is the story of creation and recreation, rescue and renewal. But when we so quickly rush past the lament of Good Friday, we miss the important telling of the full gospel narrative.

We should pause and mourn death. Death is the fruit of the curse, the work of Satan, the destroyer of men’s souls. All around us we see the rotten fruit of what Satan calls “the last enemy” (1 Cor. 15:26)—murder, disease, war. Death invades our relationships; it crushes our hopes; it corrupts our best years.

Christians exult in Easter’s good news that, because of Christ’s resurrection, death has “no sting” (1 Cor. 15:55). We want to joyfully declare to the unreached that because Jesus suffered for us, we no longer have to fear death because it is merely a doorway for God’s people into eternity with him (1 Cor. 5:8).

Let’s not, however, be so quick to avoid meditating, reflecting and thinking upon death. In one of the most poignant narratives in the gospels, John writes of a visibly troubled Jesus over the passing of his friend, Lazarus (John 11). Jesus wept openly. Jesus was greatly troubled in his spirit. Jesus was angry at death, the work of the enemy.

Christians are often too flippant about death. At funerals, we skip too swiftly to the “but we will see him later” part of our mourning. Yes, we have hope of heaven. Yes, we will see our believing loved ones one day. Yes, we know eternity for them is far better than life in a fallen world.

This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be outraged, like Jesus was, over the gravity of sin and death. The daily assaults on human dignity, the senseless violence in our world, the ravages of disease upon the human experience–these should break our hearts. There is no sugar-coating death. It’s violent. It’s evil. It’s wicked.

When we refuse to linger over the reality of death, to lament what has been lost by sin, we miss out on the full weight of Calvary and the goodness of Easter. Easter is so good, so triumphant, so joyous and bright and hopeful only because on Good Friday, our Savior hung, naked and bleeding, for his people’s sins. Good Friday is good because there, alone, abandoned, innocent, Jesus defeated that last enemy. It is good because he suffered the full weight of God’s wrath against sin.

We celebrate life because Jesus conquered death. This is why much of the hymnody throughout the ages lingers long and hard here. The road to peace with God doesn’t go around, but through a bloody cross and a wounded Savior.

So, this Good Friday, let’s not rush past the cross. Let’s profess, with the hymnwriter Isaac Watts, the somber weight of the cross:

Well might the sun in darkness hide
And shut his glories in,
When Christ, the mighty Maker died,
For man the creature’s sin.

Thus might I hide my blushing face
While His dear cross appears,
Dissolve my heart in thankfulness,
And melt my eyes to tears.

By / Mar 24

Note: This post, which I originally wrote in 2003, is dedicated to all our Christian brothers and sisters in the military — the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines in foreign lands — and all of those in the states who wish they were with them.


When a Marine is killed or seriously wounded, the duty of notifying the next of kin falls to the Casualty Assistance Calls Officer (CACO). The tasks of the CACO team (comprised of a senior NCO, a commissioned officer, and a chaplain) are generally carried out by the same people, a semi-permanent team. But the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have increased the need for more CACO teams and so I’ve been added to the roster of those assigned the morbid duty. Since my unit is one of the few active duty commands in the state, we’ve been assigned a large swath of Texas and are responsible for notifications over an area that spans hundreds of miles. Normally, a command can expect to make one or two “casualty calls” a year; we made that many this week.

Marines are, of course, no strangers to death. While we would rather see the enemy be the one to die for his country we realize what sacrifices we may be called to make and stoically accept of our fate. But though we may be able to face our own mortality, nothing prepares us for the chore of carrying such news to the family of a fallen comrade.

No training can adequately prepare us for all the factors that can go wrong as we carry out the mission. For example, my unit was recently forced to call upon a mother who, when she saw a trio of Marines in dress uniform standing on her porch, began to break down sobbing. When the officer asked the woman’s name he found it didn’t match the next of kin for the deceased. There had been a mix-up in the addresses and after a few frantic phone calls it was confirmed that this mother’s son was still alive, the correct address was a home across town. After profuse apologies the Marines left, leaving the woman to be alone with the guilty relief that somebody other than her would be grieving the loss of their child.

Such tales are shared by CACO members like war stories passed on to new troops in a combat zone. We listen somberly and secretly hope that we’ll be spared the unenviable responsibility. After a month of dread, my turn on the two-day watch finally began today. The assignment requires nothing more than to wait for bad news that may never come.

I look for signs. I watch CNN to monitor the situation, wondering if an uprising in Sadr City or Fallujah will lead to the death of another one of my brothers. I sit by the phone hoping that when it rings its just another telemarketer rather than from headquarters. I pray that I’ll be able to make it through the day without seeing the tears of a mother or the pained expression of a father trying to appear strong.

Then I remember it’s Good Friday and I begin to wonder who told Jesus’ family and friends that he had been killed. Since many of his disciples had fled the night before, they were likely still in hiding until it was too late. Who told them they had lost their teacher? Or what about James, who was probably just returning home from work when he heard the news. Did he see the tortured expression on Mary’s face and realize he had lost his brother? And how long until the report reached Jericho, where a reformed tax collector named Zacchae’us would grieve over the loss of the man who changed his life?

Over two millennia ago, the greatest “casualty call” in history spread throughout a small Roman province in the Middle East. The news that the truest friend, the most beloved son, the gentlest teacher anyone had ever known had been crucified must have spread like wildfire through the land, sparking the most profound grief our universe has ever known. From this side of the calendar we can’t begin to comprehend the magnitude of loss that must have weighed on the hearts of Christ’s followers, family, and friends. We look backward on Good Friday, seeing it from the perspective of the glory that came on Sunday morning. But they saw only the darkness and pain, the loss of hope and bewilderment; they saw nothing but heartbreak.

My phone may ring later this evening. I may have to don my uniform and put on a stoic front. I may have to drive for hours only to take the longer journey up someone’s front steps. I may have to knock on the door and see the melting expression of a parent’s dawning realization of why I’m standing on their porch. I may have to face the grief and pain and sorrow of a family that has lost someone they loved.

But I can offer them hope and take comfort in knowing that the heartbreak won’t last—at least not forever. After all, I know how the story ends. It may only be Friday. But I know that Sunday’s coming.