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Behind the Song: “Risen Indeed”

When my dad answers the phone on Easter Sunday, he doesn’t say, “Hello?” He says, “He is risen!” And he won’t say anything else until you respond with “He is risen, indeed.” I thought it was goofy when I was a kid, and now it makes me cry. Dad didn’t invent it, after all.

The early Christians used to say it to each other, which is further evidence that they understood the resurrection to be central to the whole thing. My favorite moment in all of scripture is in John 20, when Mary Magdalene visits the tomb early on Sunday morning. She sees that Jesus’s body is missing and is understandably distraught. A figure in the mist, someone she presumes to be the gardener, says, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you’re looking for?” She says, “Sir, if you’ve carried him away, tell me where you’ve put him, and I’ll get him.” He just says her name, “Mary,” and with that one word her world changes forever.

That response from my Lord is what I ache for more than anything—to one day see him in the misty dawn of a new garden, and for him to lovingly call my name. In the meantime, we’re called to rush away from the empty tomb to tell everyone with ears to hear it that he is, indeed, risen.


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