The hope of the resurrection
Because Easter is such a huge day of celebration, it is easy to forget that the first Resurrection Sunday began in grief, fear, and despair. The disciples, hiding away in a locked room (John 20:19) believed that their Lord was dead, that He failed. They may have believed it was only a matter of time before they were executed just like Jesus was. The women who went to the tomb (Matthew 28:1–10) intended to render one last act of loving service, to embalm His already-decomposing body to mask the smell of decay. No one expected that Sunday to be a day that would be celebrated for thousands of years.
This Easter is unprecedented in that, instead of gathering en masse in the churches, most have to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord apart from our churches and even many of our loved ones. More than ever, we need to remember that the message of the Resurrection is one that gives us hope that sustains us especially during times of uncertainty and difficulty.
Pandemics reveal our mortality
Most of the people who are dying of this coronavirus are elderly, or maybe they have a pre-existing condition. Yet, stories of relatively young and healthy people being unexpectedly struck down are growing in number. Thus, it is clear that safety is not guaranteed to anyone.
We like to think we have a good chance of dying at a ripe old age, after having the chance to experience life’s milestones, and maybe even after enjoying a nice long retirement. But what happens when something reveals that we have far less control over our fates than we would like to think?
The Resurrection changed everything
How did the disciples go from being a scared little group, huddled in the Upper Room, to people who were proclaiming Christ boldly, enduring persecution, exile, and martyrdom for the Gospel? The answer to this is clear: they saw the resurrected Jesus! They also received a promise that, when He comes again, they would receive a resurrection body like His. The rulers of that day and age killed Christ—yet He rose again, and the disciples knew that they would, too.
When we trust in Christ for the forgiveness of sins, we are given the same promise—death will not have the final word. Paul was even able to say, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). As Christians, we should not be afraid of our own inevitable death, because we know that we are the heirs of eternal life. Whether it’s coronavirus, a car crash, cancer, or old age, death will usher us into the presence of Christ to await our resurrection.
The Resurrection is Good News!
After the Resurrection, not one of the disciples went on to lead a quiet life, out of the spotlight and away from controversy or danger. Eleven out of the twelve were martyred, and John was exiled to a harsh penal colony. They counted the sufferings they endured as a privilege. Why? Because what they were looking forward to was better than anything they could experience on earth.
Sadly, Christians can become attached to our gadgets and luxuries. And we can be intimidated away from sharing the Gospel, because it might be socially awkward or it might cost us friends or business opportunities.
Perhaps current events can cause us to question our pre-quarantine priorities and re-focus us toward the things that really matter. We’re not going to take cars, money, or social status with us after we die. What really matters is: Have you trusted in Christ? Do you have the hope of the resurrection? If you do, what about your loved ones? Can you focus on sharing the Good News with them?
Christians are resurrection people!
The reality of the resurrection should give us great joy and confidence in the face of uncertainty. If coronavirus sickens or kills us, we know that Christ will raise us in a body that will never sicken or die. If we lose our jobs to the economic consequences of social isolation, we know that we are heirs to a royal heavenly inheritance. There is nothing the world can take from us what God has promised to give us.
This Resurrection Sunday, let’s re-commit to sharing this essential truth with those around us, especially those who have not yet trusted in Christ. Let us also dedicate ourselves to displaying confidence in Him. Maybe that will lead people to ask us where our hope comes from (1 Peter 3:15).