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The painful, joyous truth of Easter

By Nathan Rice

It was me. I was the one. I can’t deny the truth.

It was me. I was the one who betrayed Him. The people and things society offered me were attractive, and I agreed to trade Him for them when the time was right. I sold Him out, accepting the offer of fame and fortune.

It was me. I was the one who deserted Him. I was scared and confused, so I ran. The soldiers were powerful, fully armed and backed by the full weight of the government. I saw what the government did to those who opposed their regime. I didn’t want to face that fate, so I left Him to face His fate alone.

It was me. I was the one who mocked Him. I laughed at His self-proclaimed kingship. I put a robe on Him, twisted some thorn branches together to make a crown and jammed it on His head. I spit in His face, hit Him with my staff, and laughed at His pain.

It was me. I was the one who joined with the crowd calling for His death. The judge proclaimed Him innocent, but it only made me shout louder for His death.

It was me. I pulled back the whip. I ignored His cries as I ripped chunks of flesh off His back. I showed no mercy as I repeated the action until another blow would have killed Him.

It was me. I hit the hammer that forced the nails through His body. I continued to ignore His cries of agony. He was so bloodied, bruised and broken that He was almost unrecognizable, but that didn’t stop me.

It was me. I ridiculed Him as He hung on the cross gasping for air. I facetiously encouraged Him to save Himself with the power that He claimed he held. I laughed as I watched Him die.

It was me. I guarded the tomb where His followers placed the body. No one was going to be allowed to continue this charade. He was dead, and I was going to stand guard until this fad ended and His memory was forgotten.

It was me. It was me He stood before. The scars that I placed on His body were still there, but this Man whose dead body I watched be taken away was standing alive before me. I knew this couldn’t be true, but it was no trick. I saw Him eat some food, and I placed my hand on one of His scars. He was alive.

It was me. He came to me. I was too ashamed and afraid to look Him in the eyes. I figured He came for retribution. I wouldn’t blame Him. I knew what I did.

It was me. It was me He said He loved. Fear faded away as love seemed to radiate from Him, and as I dared to look at the face of the One I spit upon not that long ago, I saw Him smile at me in a way that displayed nothing but love.

It was me. He said He did it all for me. He said His life, the agony of His death, and His resurrection were the only way I could come to God the Father. He did it for me.

It was me. It was to me He offered forgiveness. I knew I didn’t deserve it, but there was no way I was going to refuse His offer. He said He would not only forgive me, but that He would choose to forget all the evil I had done.

It was me. He said I could be like Him, one with God the Father. I could know my Creator and fulfill my purpose.

It was me. He said He was preparing a place for me. He said He was coming back for me, and that I could be with Him and His Father forever in a perfect place where there would be no more pain.

It was me. It was me who has been forever changed.

Nathan Rice is a Hampton Roads native and can be reached at nrice@abnb.org.