Hope in Jesus

This is a clip from the film Passion of the Christ. Please take note that it contains some upsetting scenes. 

I became a Christian at the age of 18, but in all honesty I have had massive ups and down since then. I have worked for churches, dioceses and Christian organisations for most of my adult life, have been surrounded by Christians and felt the highs and lows of that environment. But for most of my life I can honestly say that my belief in God, my understanding of Jesus has always been dictated by the situations I have been in. If life is good, it’s easy to believe in the goodness of God. If life is tough then it’s easy for me to think either that God is not always good or even that maybe there isn’t a God at all. 

But when I speak to our team in Uganda, I am challenged. I hear stories about those who have nothing, who face daily struggles and even threat of death from violence or disease. Yet they are full of joy, full of HOPE, full of faith. It is then that I remember the truth of God, the truth of a HOPE in Him and the freedom in the resurrection. It’s those stories that help me hold on when life is low and when my understanding of God is challenged by my life situations.

Question: When in your life have you felt closest to God?

The Resurrection

Read Matthew 28:1-20

The apostle Paul tells us: "If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith." 1 Corinthians 15:13-14.

In other words, if there wasn’t a resurrection, our faith is pointless. If Christianity is simply about this life and then we die to never exist again, then it really doesn’t matter what we do or how we live or what we believe.

If there is no resurrection, then the crucifixion of Christ didn’t achieve anything for us, and we still live with the weight of our sins (verse 17). But there is a resurrection, not only for Jesus but also for us.

Question – What do you believe about the resurrection of Jesus?

There are two passages that describe the resurrection in a little more detail, Paul’s letter to the church in Thessalonica, and his letter to the Corinthians.

Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Paul isn’t saying much here about the resurrection except its timing. There will be a resurrection, and the reason we know that is because Jesus was raised from the dead. We believe in His resurrection, so we believe that he will also bring back to life all who believe in him, and this will happen when Jesus returns to earth.

Read 1 Corinthians 37-44

Paul goes into more detail, explaining not only that there will be a resurrection, but he also comments on what we will be like. First, he compares the resurrection to the planting of a seed. The seed looks like a seed, but the plant that grows from it looks different, depending on what kind of seed it is (verses 37-38). The body that is sown will waste away and raised to never waste away. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power, it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. (verses 42-44)

After we are resurrected, we will be different. The important differences are that we will live forever, glorious, powerful, and spiritual—and we will be like Jesus.

The resurrection has practical consequences for our lives today. It gives us reasons to work, reasons to HOPE, reasons to be heaven on earth to those around us, reasons to serve the poor and reasons to hold on when we want to give up.

HOPE can be hard to see, but it is always there. As we enter into the last week in Lent, I want to give you some challenges for the week to help us find HOPE and share HOPE with others. 

Actions:

  1. Spend some time with God today. Tell him and be honest with yourself about where you are at with your relationship with Him.
  2. Remember all of the high points in your faith journey so far and write them down. Share them with friends, family or your homegroup.
  3. What can you change about how you live today knowing that you have a HOPE for eternal life with Jesus?
Christ's resurrection not only gives you hope for the future; it gives you hope to handle your scars right now.

Timothy Keller