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The Best News Ever!
By Carlton U. Forbes
Staff Writer & Columnist
Passion of the Christ

Good news is a message that gladdens the downcast, inspires the downtrodden, and enlivens the disheartened. The phrase good news is an everyday expression, and the meaning is self-evident. Simply put, good news is like a desirable outcome that pleases nearly everyone. Almost everyone likes to hear a favorable account of an event or endeavor. Why? That’s because good news is almost always welcomed, and well-received.

Naturally, the same expectancy with which we wait on good news spurs us to spread it just as eagerly. This reminds me of an old adage that affirms our preference for hearing what pleases us. “Good news travels fast.”

Historians tell us that during the year 490 BC, The Persian Empire decided to embark upon a new quest—to conquer Greece and extend its domain into Europe. To achieve its military objective, the Persian Army assembled a large force on the Plains of Marathon, just miles away from Athens, ready to attack the city.

Though the Athenian Army was outnumbered by the Persians four to one, they planned a daring assault into the Persian flank, struck their enemy unexpectedly, and quickly gained a vantage ground in the battle. When the first light of morning finally broke upon the battlefield, the Persians had lost up to 6,400 fighters, compared to just 192 of the Athenians.

Seeing such carnage in their ranks, the Persians retreated, and set sail for Athens. Realizing the Persians’ intent, the Athenian general chose Pheidippides, a professional runner and soldier to deliver the news of victory and warn the city of the impending Persian attack. Despite being tired from the early morning battle, Pheidippides set off on a 26-mile trek to Athens. Knowing the importance of reaching the city before the Persians, Pheidippides made extraordinary efforts to run the distance in the shortest time possible.

Just three hours later, Pheidippides reached the top of a hill on the border of Athens. Being out of breath, all he could say to the watchmen was “Nike! Nike! Nike!” Then, succumbing to exhaustion, he collapsed. Just before taking his last breath, the weakened warrior warned his countrymen of the approaching Persians.

This warning gave the Athenians time to summon the Spartans to join forces in order to thwart the Persian invasion. Today, the annals of history accord that epic battle as a case study in snatching victory despite insurmountable odds. Hence, in honor of Pheidippides extraordinary athletic fete, today’s marathon race of 26.2 miles serves as an annual memorial to Pheidippides, the runner who sacrificed his life to deliver good news to his people.

According to the gospel writers, 12 men followed Jesus for three and a half years. During that time, they saw Christ turned water into wine; they saw him used a little boy’s lunch—a few loaves and fish to feed 5,000 people. They were amazed at the fact that his words calmed the stormed, quieted the waves, and infused life into a dying child. They were also astounded by his supremacy over the laws of nature.

With divine authority, he pronounced a curse on a fig tree. Amazingly, just hours later, it withered and died. With commanding tone, he rebuked the Devil, and sent Satan scurrying away from his presence. Hearing His forceful demand, demons exited those they had possessed for years. They were especially impressed with his power of perception, His ability to discern the unspoken thoughts of his critics, and invoked the most fitting parable to teach lessons about the kingdom of God.

Their walkathon with the Lord took them to the major cities of Palestine inhabited by Israelites, Greeks, Romans, and other Gentiles. They attended the dinner at the tax collector’s house, and heard him speak words of redemption to Zacheous. They were present when he turned the funeral in Nain into a celebratory event. They were puzzled when a woman of ill-repute used her expensive jar of alabaster oil to anoint his feet, and wipe them with her hair. They heard him when he called Lazarus back from the grave; and raised the Roman official’s daughter from her deathbed.

Such events led them to believe that Jesus was the expected deliverer. Hearing Him talk about restoring the Kingdom of God stirred within them thoughts of a revolutionary rabbi destined to liberate them from Roman rule. Eventually, they convinced themselves that in due time, their rabbi would vanquish the Romans, and restore their national sovereignty.

This belief was bolstered by the scene that invoked the pageantry of a crowned prince. They lifted him up, placed him on a colt, and watched him ride through the streets of Jerusalem like the ruler they wanted him to be. When the people saw him, they spread their cloaks in his path, waved palms in his honor, and shouted “Hosanna to Highest!”

Those events only helped to reinforce the expectation that soon, he would reveal himself as the promised Messiah. Sadly, that announcement never came. Instead, he was arrested by the Jewish leaders, questioned by Pilate, sent to Herod, for a royal interrogation. Then, he was sent back to Pilate, who interviewed him again and declared him innocent of the charges. Still, to their dismay, he was swapped with an insurrectionists named Barabbas, and sentenced by default to be crucified.

Such distressing turn of events made them confused. How could it be that the “teacher with healing hands” ended up on a cross like a common criminal? The disciples simply could not comprehend the change of fortune that happened to their group in just a few days. Being disheveled by the most awful weekend, the disciples disbursed, his other followers scattered, and only the women had enough courage to visit the tomb where he was buried.

Boldly, they went with spices and ointments, during the final hours of that wicked weekend. Their primary purpose was to anoint him, and treat his deceased body with the dignity of a Jewish loved-one. With sorrowful downcast hearts, and saddened spirit, they went to the sepulcher, to perform the final funeral rite. Luke’s account of that solemn visit is wondrously astounding.

The women timidly approached the tomb with mournful hearts. 2…They found the stone rolled away from the sepulcher. 3 And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: 5 And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the ground, they said unto them, Why seek you the living among the dead? 6He is not here, but is risen… (Luke24:2-6)

Clearly, for these women, the angels’ report of Christ’s resurrection is the best news ever. Such news was unanticipated, unexpected and unforeseen. This was the kind of news the disciples could scarcely believe. News like this would buoy up their downcast spirits, cheer up their broken hearts, and restore their faith in their leader. The resurrection of Christ was the best news ever for the disciples on that dreary Sunday morning. (1st Cor. 15:12-20).

This weekend, Christians will reflect on the crucifixion, and celebrate the Risen Christ. The angels’ announcement “He is not here; but is risen” is the best news ever! As it was welcomed news for the disciples, so it is for us on this solemn Easter.

Why? That's because Christ victory over death, his emergence from the grave ensures our hope of salvation, and the promise of spending eternity with him. This good news is infused with reassurance. Christ is risen! He lives forevermore. Jesus is the risen Lord! His resurrection imparts eternal hope to every believer.

The best news ever is Jesus rose from the dead on that mournful morning. Christ’s resurrection fulfilled what the prophet had foretold. “He will not leave his body to be corrupted in the grave.” Indeed, Jesus is the living ransom of God. The grave could not contain him. The tomb could not hold him. The stone could not hinder him.

The Roman soldiers could not detain him. The Pharisees could not silence him. The Sadducees could not stymie him. Satan could not overpower him. He broke the chains of death, and torn asunder the stone sepulcher. He trampled through earth’s graveyard, taking with him a multitude of heaven-bound souls.

The crucified Christ recovered from his mortal wound, overcame the death blow, and triumphed over his executioners. The risen Lord put his enemies to shame and instilled in his disciples holy boldness. The resurrection event inspired Paul to write, “Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory? (1 Cor. 15:54-55)

My friends, the Risen Christ has transformed the story of Jesus from an unimpressive narrative into a foundational Christian doctrine, the gospel of the resurrection—the good news of salvation. The risen Lord is the hinge on which the gates of glory swings open, allowing the saints of God to go marching into Zion.

Editor’s Note:
The writer currently teaches Communicative English at Hankyong National University. He has also authored a forthcoming book “A Few Choice Words.” He can be reached at cuforbes@gmail.com



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Carlton U. Forbes, who serves as staff writer & columnist for The Seoul Times, currently teaches Communicative English at Hankyong National University in S. Korea. Among the books he authored are "A Few Choice Words" and "ESL Teaching Aids." A resident of S. Korea for over a decade Prof. Forbes can be reached at cuforbes@gmail.com

 

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