Easter: The Resurrection Gives Certain Hope (Apr 4, 2021)
The Resurrection Gives Certain Hope
Easter Worship – 1 Corinthians 15:19-20
watch our livestream: https://youtu.be/hsOQ_gPzbck
Intro: Uncertainty is the worst
Uncertainty is the worst. It causes a lot of stress. There is the inability to make plans. Then constantly changing those plans. There is the mental burden, the mind spinning, the trying to find the solution that will bring clarity.
Uncertainty is the worst. And these are certainly uncertain times. Over the past year, things kept changing. The things I thought were certain weren’t. Things I was told were true weren’t. Nothing seemed certain. It still doesn’t.
In such uncertain times, people need hope. They need to believe there are answers—solutions to what they are experiencing. What are some things people are hoping for as we sit here this Easter Sunday morning?
“I hope this virus goes away so life can get back to normal.”
“I hope I get a job soon.”
“I hope our country can heal.”
It is important to have hope. The problem is that most of the time the hope people have is really no hope at all. It is nothing more than a wish, a dream, a “Wouldn’t it be great if…?” There is nothing certain about such hope. And so, this kind of hope isn’t much help.
That’s why it is so good we are here this morning. Here to take our minds off of all the uncertainties for a moment. We are here to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. And we are going to discover that what happened outside of Jerusalem that first Easter Sunday nearly two thousand years ago gives us a different kind of hope—a sure and certain hope.
Part I: Easter gives us hope for uncertainty in this life
The Bible is filled with promises—promises of what Jesus is doing and will do in the lives of his people. It promises, for example:
➢ That Jesus is always with us. No matter where we are, we are never alone.
➢ That Jesus knows our every fear and worry.
➢ That Jesus has the power to protect us.
➢ That Jesus has the power to provide for us.
➢ That Jesus hears our prayers.
➢ That Jesus loves us.
But if Jesus’ bones are still buried in a cave somewhere outside of Jerusalem, then why should we believe his promises? If that were the case, then NONE of these promises can be true. And God’s promises cannot be trusted.
But Jesus’ bones are NOT buried. His bones, along with the rest of his body, were raised back to life. No one can undo the historical evidence. Some might deny it. Some might not believe it. But unbelief doesn’t change the reality of Jesus’ resurrection. Denying it doesn’t change the numerous eyewitness accounts that would hold up in a court of law today. Unbelief does not change the fact that neither the Romans nor his Jewish opponents could find his body. It is a well attested to historical event. He is alive and well this very day.
So, he is able to fulfill every promise the Bible makes about him.
➢ Jesus IS always with you. No matter where you are, you are never alone.
➢ Jesus knows your every fear and worry—whether it is about a virus or a job or the future of your country.
➢ Jesus has the power to protect you and provide for you. You never need to worry.
➢ Jesus hears your prayers. Every, single, one.
➢ Jesus loves you—loves YOU. He loves you more than you could ever imagine. He loves you enough to win forgiveness for your every sin.
You don’t need to hope he is with you, can protect you, loves you, and forgives you. These are God’s promises. This is a sure and certain hope because Jesus is alive and is perfectly capable of carrying out his promises.
Part II: Easter gives us hope for a certain life to come
But there will come a day when even that won’t be enough. There will come a day, for every one of us, when promises about this life won’t matter because this life will end. What then?
In the Bible reading for today, the apostle Paul put it this way: “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Cor 15:19). Yes, we have hope in this life because Jesus is alive. But, if that were the only hope we had, it wouldn’t matter when we leave this life.
If there is no such thing as a resurrection from the dead, then… We can enjoy God’s love now… We can appreciated God’s power and guidance for our earthly life… We can honor him now… We can focus on his mercy and majesty to cope with our present sufferings… But if that’s it, if there is no resurrection from the dead, then there is no future. There is no hope.
But Paul writes, “Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Cor 15:20).
Well, there it is—the greatest promise you could possibly hear this morning. If you sat down this morning and were promised that COVID-19 would disappear by the end of the week, that would be great. If you were promised that you would wake up tomorrow and be given your dream job, that would be great. If you were promised a winning lottery ticket that gave you a guaranteed income for the rest of your life, that would be great. But none of these promises can compare to what the apostle Paul just said.
Listen again, “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” In other words, Jesus did rise from the dead and he is just the first one who will do so. Because he won forgiveness of sins and conquered death, everyone who follows him will also be raised from the dead one day.
And this is something certain to hold on to. A certain hope that will get you through each and every day. Because you know what sin does. Some might deny it, but denial and unbelief cannot change the fact that every person will one day die. Death is a consequence of sin. Scripture plainly says, “Death came through a man” (1 Cor 15:21). You know the man. You know the place. You know the words: “In the day you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen 2:17). Adam and Eve ate from the tree and brought sin and death into the world. This hits home. It agrees with our conscience. It is what we all suspect and fear. Our inherited sinful nature lets in all the corruption that flows from it – puts us into a constant state of dying.
But do you know what else Scripture says? “For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man” (1 Cor 15:21). Once again, you know the man! You know the place! You know how it all happened, we just read about it today! “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Cor 15:22). Because of Jesus’ resurrection, not only will we rise from a state of lifelessness, but we will also enjoy real life, and real living in a close relationship with God! As certain and sure death is, so certain and sure is the resurrection from the dead. Jesus’ own resurrection gives you certainty in this hope!
Talk about hope! It essentially means that this life cannot really hurt you. It can cause you pain and disappointment and frustration, sure. Yet knowing that this life is only temporary but the next life will be eternal puts things in perspective. Doesn’t it? And knowing that this life may have pain but that the next life will be painless is priceless. And knowing that this life may be filled with tears but that the next life will be tear-free dries those tears a bit. Doesn’t it?
“Sounds too good to be true, Pastor.” I agree. It does. Eternal life? In a perfect paradise? And given to me as a free gift earned by Jesus? Is this just wishful thinking? Are we being over-optimistic as Christians with our heads in the clouds – not rooted in reality?
No. No, we are not. Unlike the kind of hope this world offers, Easter offers sure and certain hope. Because Jesus did rise from the dead. Because your sins have been paid for. Because he is alive and well able to keep his promises. Because he promises eternal life to all of his people.
Uncertainty is the worst. Whether it is uncertainty about your health or your wealth, or a virus or a vaccine, or your job or your relationships, uncertainty is the worst.
In this remarkably uncertain time, aren’t you glad you don’t need to rely on wishes and dreams? You can rely on the sure and certain promises of God. You can rely on a Savior who is alive and well. He is your hope here…and hereafter.