March 23rd, 2016

The Foundation of Hope

The Power of Christ’s Resurrection

cross16The significance of Christ’s resurrection is found in the first letter written by Peter: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1 Peter 1:3)

Here, we learn that the indispensable reality from which our hope springs is the truth that Jesus Christ has conquered death on our behalf:

The Bible says this about our ultimate enemy:

  • Death is the necessary consequence of our wrongdoings. “The wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23)
  • The heartaches of life are like “the valley of the shadow of death.” (Psalm 23:4)
  • The pains of death are a primary cause for our fears. “My heart is in anguish within me, and the terrors of death have fallen upon me.” (Psalm 55:4)
  • Death is the inevitable appointment. “It is appointed for men to die once, and after this comes judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27)

Death is our true, great enemy, one that we cannot defeat on our own. Therefore, Christ came to address the problem of death on our behalf and to give us hope.

This hope of victory over death that Christ brought was so profound that Matthew stirred his first century readers to remember the ancient prophecy of Isaiah.

“The people who were sitting in darkness saw a great light, and those who were sitting in the land and shadow of death, upon them a light dawned.” (Matthew 4:16)

From darkness to light. From death to life. Christ, in His death conquering mission, took the fear and terrors of death and replaced them with hope.

Consider the impact of what Christ’s death and resurrection accomplished. Paul wrote of this extensively in 1 Corinthians 15 by explaining the depth and comprehensiveness of Christ’s resurrection victory. He wrote:

“The last enemy that will be abolished is death…But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written. ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your victory? O Death, where is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law, but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:26, 54-57)

Believers in Christ can live and die with hope because our greatest enemy has been conquered. Christ has taken the sting out of death by removing the fear of what happens after we die. Now, we can approach death with real hope, not wishful, cosmetic hope, but real genuine hope of eternal life.

Reflection

How does the resurrection give you personal hope?

Prayer

Lord Jesus, we rejoice in the wondrous gift of the cross. Through the letters of Peter and Paul, we realize that the Scriptures offer us an incredible number of ways to understand the meaning of your cross. It is God’s victory over the power of death and evil, our atoning sacrifice, our acquittal from the charges against us, our ransom from eternal slavery, our dying and rising with Christ. Your cross inspires us to live a life for others, gives us hope in the midst of suffering, and enables  us to trust in your great victory over the temporary powers of this world.

Amen

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