The Significance of the Resurrection

     Are you tired of bad news?    Ready for some good news?  So how do we keep going in dark times?  What do we hold on to?  It appears to me there is a growing crisis of hopelessness.  We are going through a time when shallow optimism is not enough.  We need a robust, substantial hope.  In the midst of so much darkness, Jesus offers us that mighty hope, specifically through His resurrection.  The apostle Peter says, “. . . he has given us new birth into a LIVING HOPE through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3b).  How does the resurrection of Jesus long ago give us hope today?
     The gospels end with the story of Jesus rising from the dead, and then some accounts of resurrection appearances to different individuals.  In last week’s faith article I shared with you some evidence as to why Christians believe the resurrection is fact, not myth.  Since we have a historically verifiable resurrection by Jesus, we have hard evidence that Jesus is who He says He is, the Son of God, fully divine.  When we look at the propositions of others who claim to be teachers of truth or messengers from God, we can compare the credentials.  Buddha, Muhammad and Confucius are all still in their graves.  While they may have taught a few things that are true, they cannot claim to be THE TRUTH.  Many today tend to believe that religions are like various airlines.  Just as we can take Alaska Airlines or Delta to Seattle, some claim that we can take Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam or New Age Spirituality to heaven or some kind of Nirvana.  Jesus made it very clear that this is not the case.  He states, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).  That is a direct, exclusive, and even offensive claim.  But it is true and we can believe it because Jesus walked out of his own grave.  Looking back to the airline image, I choose to pick the airplane piloted by the living pilot, not the dead one, to get to heaven.  Jesus alone has conquered death. The resurrection gives us certainty in a world filled with competing truth claims.  In a world where political and even spiritual leaders cannot always be trusted, certainty is a significant part of hope. 
     The resurrection of Jesus offers us overcoming power.  There is no greater enemy or obstacle in life than death itself and yet Jesus overcame.  Christians are people of the resurrection, as the power of the Holy Spirit dwells within us.  No obstacle is too great.  Just as there was a huge stone and a contingent of soldiers guarding the grave, we too may find ourselves in dead places with serious opposition.  But the resurrection gives us hope that we can be overcomers in any area.  Our dead marriages can be resurrected.  The graveclothes of addiction that we find ourselves wrapped in can be removed.  Our illness and disease can be healed if God chooses.  Our finances can be turned around.  If we are a resurrection people whatever tombs we find ourselves in can be vacated.  The death and resurrection is the defining story of Jesus but it can be our defining story as well.  Because of the resurrection, we can have hope in any situation.  Author Christine Caine sums it up well when she says, “Sometimes when you’re in a dark place you think you’ve been buried but you’ve actually been planted.”   
     Finally, the resurrection offers us hope in the face of death.  Over the last year we have watched the world shut down over the fear of death by COVID-19.  While I am not saying to be reckless, we do not have to walk in the fear of death by whatever means.  Whether it be cancer, an auto accident or old age, death comes for each of us.  But Christians should not fear death for we follow the one who stood outside the grave of Lazarus and said, “I am the resurrection and the life.  The one who believes in me will live, even though they die” (John 11:25).   Then he called Lazarus from his grave to back up this remarkable claim.  Humanity has always longed for life after death, and most cultures have some form of belief in eternal life.  The resurrection of Jesus Christ turns this longing from wishful thinking to a confident expectation.  I have performed a couple hundred funerals in my career as a minister and I am telling you there is a profound difference between the funeral of a Christian and a non-Christian.  Even though both involve sadness, the Christian funeral brims with confident expectation of a better place and an eventual reunion with the loved one who passed.  Jesus told us he goes to prepare a place for us in the presence of the Father.  The resurrection gives us a solid place to stand in confidence, as we put our trust in that promise.  I pray that you too have received the hope that the resurrection offers.  He is risen!

Pastor Derek Dickinson
Journey Christian Church