Today, I attended the funeral of a dear follower of Jesus, who recently passed away after a long battle with cancer. Going to a funeral this close to Easter was a pretty unique experience for me, and it brought the practical realities of Jesus Christ’s resurrection into sharp focus. The effects and implications of Christ’s death on the cross for our sin and His subsequent resurrection are incredibly numerous, but here are a few apects that have really stuck out to me as I and my church family have mourned the loss of a fellow Christ-follower.
First, Jesus’ resurrection brings hope in the face of death. Death is unnatural. It is the result and penalty of human sin, our rebellion against God. Death also brings hurt and grief when it comes to those we love, and it often rouses fear when we face it ourselves. But, the good news of Jesus’ resurrection is that He has conquered death. This means that death does not have the final word, it is not the end. So, while it is fitting to mourn the death of those we love (as even Jesus wept at the death of a close friend), for those who follow Jesus, we mourn with hope. We mourn with hope knowing that those who have trusted Christ in this life, when they die they are present with Him, and that His resurrection guarantees that when Jesus returns their bodies will be raised to new life to dwell with Him for eternity. So, Jesus’ resurrection gives hope to death, because it demonstrates that there is life in Christ after death.
Second, Jesus resurrection gives hope in our suffering. Let’s be honest, life is at times very hard. We go through trials and experience pains and sorrows that are often deep and heavy. Jesus’ death and resurrection show us that God, Himself, identifies with our sufferings, trials, pains, and sorrows because He experienced all of those things Himself, when He became a man in the person of Jesus Christ. So, we don’t suffer alone, Jesus walks with us through our suffering, encouraging and caring for us, because He has been there. The sweet lady whose funeral I attended lived the last eight years of her life in terrible pain from her cancer and treatments, as many others also have. But, since she trusted in Christ’s resurrection, she was able to suffer well, never allowing her trials to consume her, though they were difficult for her. Instead, she used her suffering to glorify Christ, by sharing His love and joy to others, despite her pain. So, Christ’s resurrection lets us know we don’t suffer aimlessly, and that we have a God who can identify with our sufferings and so bring us great comfort.
Lastly, Jesus’ resurrection gives us hope for this life. On the one hand, the resurrection signals that sin and death are defeated; our penalty for sin has been paid by Christ, we have forgiveness! This means that those who trust in Christ as their Lord and Savior are able to live as they were created: to love, worship, and obey God. So, the resurrection of Christ brings meaning to life. On the other hand, Christ’s resurrections shows us that there is more to our existence than simply breathing, accumulating stuff, and dying and that life in this sinful, broken world with all of its hurts and sorrows is not all there is. The resurrection allows us to live with radical passion for Christ, worshiping and serving Him now, with the assurance that whenever our life on this earth ends, there is life on the other side with Him. So then, the resurrection allows us to live with hope because it gives purpose and meaning to this life, as well hope for a life come.
Easter, then is about more than lilies, chocolate bunnies, Peeps, and delicious cream filled eggs; it is about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Easter doesn’t just signal the arrival of Spring, it signals hope for all people, because Jesus died, and is alive, calling everyone to leave sin, love and treasure Him, and so truly live. This is the gospel, that we have hope in one savior, Jesus Christ. “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 15:55-57).