Summary: Jesus is alive, so be sure and be glad. Be sure of a glorious future and be glad even in times of grief today.
Several years ago, Health and Human Services sent a letter to a resident of Greenville County, South Carolina. The letter said, “Your food stamps will be stopped, effective March, because we received notice that you passed away. May God bless you. You may reapply if your circumstances change.” (S. Bowen Matthews, Wilmington, Delaware. Leadership, Vol. 17, no.3; www.PreachingToday.com)
I don’t think that’s going to happen, but it DID happen to a man 2,000 years ago, and His resurrection had a profound impact on the world. In fact, His resurrection can change you and your world today! If you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to 1 Peter 1, 1 Peter 1, where we see how Christ’s resurrection can change your world today.
1 Peter 1:1-2 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance. (ESV)
The Apostle Peter is writing to a group of believers who found themselves to be “exiles scattered” throughout all of Asia Minor, in what is now Northern Turkey.
The Greek word for “scattered” (in verse 1) was used in Bible days of the Jews who were separated from their homeland. Here, Peter uses it of Christians who found themselves scattered from their own homes in places that were strange to them. You see, the Roman government under Nero had just started to persecute Christians, and many of them had fled for their lives.
Even so, there is hope for them, AND there is hope for you who sometimes feel like strangers in a world hell-bent for self-destruction.
1 Peter 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead... (ESV)
The resurrection of Christ gives us a “living hope” in the midst of difficult times. That means it is a sure hope, a certain hope, a life-changing hope.
Three years ago (March 30, 2018), George Weigel wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal, where he talks about the profound impact that hope had on the ancient world. He writes:
There is no accounting for the rise of Christianity without weighing the revolutionary effect on those nobodies of what they called “the Resurrection.” They encountered one whom they embraced as the Risen Lord, whom they first knew as the itinerant Jewish rabbi, Jesus of Nazareth, and who died an agonizing and shameful death on a Roman cross outside Jerusalem.
That first generation answered the question of why they were Christians with a straightforward answer: because Jesus was raised from the dead… As they worked that out, their thinking about a lot of things changed profoundly.
The article mentions some of the positive outcomes brought to the ancient world through Christianity:
• A new dignity given to woman in contrast to the classical culture.
• A self-denying healthcare provided to plague sufferers.
• A focus on family health and growth.
• A remarkable change in worship from the Sabbath to Sunday
• A willingness to embrace death as martyrs—because they knew that death did not have the final word in the human story. &
• Living as if they knew the outcome of history itself.
Weigel suggests that it's only through, what he calls “the Easter Effect,” that these changes make sense. The social changes that followed Good Friday occur only if they actually believed in the resurrection of Jesus. (George Weigel, “The Easter Effect and How it Changed the World,” The Wall Street Journal, 3-30-18; www.PreachingToday.com)
The resurrection of Jesus is a LIVING hope, a hope that actually makes a real difference! So live your life with confidence, and...
Be certain of a glorious future no matter how bad things get today.
The resurrection of Christ is a sure and certain fact of history. His empty tomb and his post resurrection appearances together form two irrefutable pieces of evidence for the resurrection of Christ. If the disciples stole Jesus’ body, as the Jewish leaders first claimed, then there is no way to explain His appearances to hundreds of people over a 40-day period after He died, many of which refused to give up their faith in the resurrection even in the face of persecution and death. On the other hand, if Jesus’ followers were hallucinating when they claimed to have seen Him, then all somebody had to do was go to the tomb and show them Jesus’ body. The only explanation that fits both pieces of evidence is the fact that Jesus did indeed rise from the dead. It is an irrefutable fact of history.