Today, Christians worldwide are gathered to celebrate our hope in Christ — Easter Sunday. It is the day our hope in Christ was secured. The grave could not hold the Lion of the tribe of Judah, he defeated death and therein is our hope.
In Luke 24, there is a story about two disciples on their way to Emmaus when Jesus joined them. They were lamenting over their dashed hope of the deliverance of Israel. They longed for deliverance from Roman rule through Christ. However, Christ their deliverer a few days ago was brutally murdered on a cross–the most humiliating way to die. With His death, went their hopes. But as the narrative progresses, we see a hope that is higher than deliverance from Roman oppression. They encountered the Resurrected Christ. He is alive! The grave couldn’t hold Him.
The believer’s hope is tied to the resurrection of Christ. It is a hope that is beyond the grave. Hope that makes us endure suffering because we know the glory that awaits us. The hope that made Paul count all his achievements as garbage.
What is this hope?
Paul gives us a hint in 1 Corinthians 15:19-22: “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.”
In this passage Paul was responding to those who deny the resurrection of the dead. He started by saying if there is no resurrection of the dead, then among all people we are the most to be pitied as Christians. He points to Christ’s resurrection as the basis for his certainty. Christ is the firstfruit, and once you have the firstfruit it signifies that the rest of the harvest is going to come in.
This is the Christian’s hope, it is the hope that our present life is not the end of the story. The hope that our mortal bodies will be changed to the same glorious body of Christ. The hope that God is going to wipe away every tear from our eyes — there will be no more death, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore. In Revelations 22:4, we are told we will see the face of God and we will be with him forever. That has always fascinated me, because I know most of us are looking for something great, many of us are on a wild goose chase for something that will blow us away. We are always looking for that experience that will take our breath away. This is it, to see the face of God and still be alive.
But sadly, this hope is not for everybody. In 1 Corinthians 15:21 & 22 we are told that sin entered the world through one man and with this came death as well. In Genesis the bible tells us that God created the world, and he said everything he created was beautiful. There was no death, there was no pain, there was no chaos. He then created man in his own image to have dominion and authority over everything he has created. Just as he gave authority to man to rule, he also wanted man to know that he did so under authority and so he gave a command not to eat from a particular tree. God told man that the day he ate from the tree he will die.
This was not only a physical death, it was spiritual death first and foremost. A life lived in separation from God in pain and torment forever. Man disobeyed God and sided with the devil, believing the lie over the loving and gracious care of God. Through Adam’s disobedience sin entered the world, and with sin came death. Man became an enemy of God.
There are some who vehemently protest why Adam’s sin should become their sin. But my answers to that is, really? Every personal sin we commit is actually rebellion against God. We sin because that’s who we are.
We are sinners, not because we sin. Rather, we sin because we are sinners.¹
But that is not the end of the story, John 3:16 tells us God looked at the depravity of man, and his loving heart was moved with compassion. He sent his Son into the world to reconcile the run away man to Himself. There are two things Jesus accomplished. He lived a perfect life as a man. He obeyed perfectly all the commands of God. The one we could not obey. Then he also went on to pay the penalty that was hanging over our heads as enemies of God.
So here we have two things, the perfect life of Jesus, and the payment for sin. And God has said anyone who will come, Jesus’ payment will be credited to them and His perfect record will be theirs as well. What an awesome invitation! However, this invitation is not open ended, because God has appointed a time when everyone will give an account of all that they have done with their lives. We will all appear before the judgment seat of God, and at that time Jesus will not be a saviour, he will be a judge (John 3:36).
Christ has risen and it is the reason for our hope. To those who have come to know Him as their Saviour, He will return not to die again but to receive us to Himself and we will be with Him in all eternity. To those who don’t know Him, that day will be a day of terror and gnashing of teeth. He will come as a judge. Are you ready to meet Him?
1: R.C. Sproul, Essential Truths of The Christian Faith