Saturday, April 4, 2015

From Bleak Death into Eternal Hope

I Corinthians 15:12-17 "Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. 14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. 15 Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. 16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable."

Seeing the little purple crocus push through the sodden ground meant so much to me this spring. It seemed that it would never come, that perhaps the bitter cold killed my crocuses for good, but the purple crocus showed it's face on this earth ever so briefly. It reminds me that in Christ, there is always hope.

I love the song by Bill Gaither, "Because He Lives." The first two lines of the chorus say: "Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives, all fear is gone." Let me say the opposite alternative is terrifying: If Christ did not rise from the dead, there would be no hope in this world. If He did not live in resurrection life, fear would be constant companion until the day I die.

But we know for a fact that He did rise from the grave, and His life and death marked a dividing line in human history. According to one Bible source, the Bible has 2,500 prophecies in it and 2,000 of them have already been fulfilled.

For example, in Psalm 22, David prophesied in verses 7 and 8:

"All those who see Me ridicule Me;
They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,

“He trusted in the LORD, let Him rescue Him;
Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!”

Note how this prophesy was fulfilled in Matthew 27:

38 Then two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and another on the left.
39 And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads 40 and saying, “You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.”
41 Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said, 42 “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. 43 He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ ”
44 Even the robbers who were crucified with Him reviled Him with the same thing.

Or how about this Scripture about Christ's bones not being broken:

Psalm 34:20 He guards all his bones; Not one of them is broken.

This was fulfilled in John 19:

31 "Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. 32 Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him. 33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs."

His bones were not broken because they represented us, His Church:

Eph. 5:30: "For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones."

If these prophecies were fulfilled, we can have hope that even though the world has gone mad, God will remain true to His promises.

Think of both the simplicity and the profundity of Jesus's words to us, especially relevant in this day when all the foundations around us are being shaken:

John 14: 1 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And where I go you know, and the way you know.” (emphasis mine)

That is the hope we can have during this Easter season, and every day for that matter. I cannot hope in myself, or in my plans to get better in my own strength, but I receive courage to keep going by this very fact:

Colossians 1: 27

"To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. "
(emphasis mine)

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