Summary: Jesus became the living promise that springs-forth renewal and life, and the hope everlasting that we too can we too can live without fear, eternally past the grave, and forever with Christ.
Hope is faith in the immutable promise that miracles prevail when the darkness tries to win-out with cries of despair. Hope is a gift from God that helps us yearn, and live a life that believes and moves with the pledge of a better tomorrow. And what’s more, hope springs-forth resurrection life, and draws us near to the love of Christ, who is the light of God who walked out from the grave to make the way for everlasting life.
Easter Sunday celebrates the rebirth of life eternal that illuminates the light of hope, which perpetually shines upon the soul. For as he did then, God eternal still calls forth despair from the darkness, into his Spirit’s resurrection might. For truly, what is this day, if not one that dawns hope eternal, in the glory of Jesus’ resurrection light?
Today, we’ve gathered to celebrate the light eternal that draws us near and springs forth resurrection life. So with that in mind, let us turn our hearts, minds and ears to the hope that lives beyond the cross, and is calling us forth from the grave, and away from our fears.
While this might not be conventional, let us begin our time three days earlier, when the hopes of many were dashed upon Calvary’s hill, and when Christ’s body was sealed into the cave of earthly despair.
HOPES WERE DASHED AT THE CROSS
Have you ever had your hopes dashed upon the wooden beams of life, or sealed within a cave of stone? I bet all of us can honestly say to one another, “Yah, symbolically, I have.” At one time or another, many of us can say we’ve needed the hope of God for a better day. For as it is for us today, so it was also two thousand years ago for the followers of Jesus, when Rome crucified the one many called savior upon Calvary’s hill.
How many people lost hope after hearing Jesus in fact had been brutally tortured and killed? How many people lost hope when Jesus had not —as they perceived — delivered the masses, as some believed? We read of the five who stayed by Jesus side, yet wept rivers of tears as their savior — before their eyes —had died. We read of men like Peter and more, who when they knew Jesus was given to die, ran from the authorities, hid, and cried.
Surely, their hopes dashed upon Jesus’ wooden beams. And although none of Jesus’ bones were crushed on that day, I am certain the dreams of hundreds were broken, as the massive stone was rolled in place to seal his grave. Still, there had to have been a glimmer of hope amidst the despair, because the savior had promised he’d rise — three days later.
HOPE LIVES IN THE PROMISE
The Apostle John recorded the words which Jesus declared, “Whoever believes in me, will never die, for I am the resurrection and the life.” Jesus said these things the day he raised Lazarus from the grave. For on that day in Bethany, he performed the greatest miracle ever seen, one that foreshadowed his own resurrection day.
Surely, his disciples would have remembered that wondrous time. But his words and actions were not the only promise he gave; for over-and-again he repeatedly said, that although he would brutally die, he’d rise again. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” he said.
He proclaimed these truths before the crowds and the Pharisees just two years before he declared, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through me.” For the day he made this famous declaration, he stood before the high priest and avowed that he was in fact, the promised Messiah. For while he was silent, he would not refute his previous claims that truly, in fact, God would give new life, and raise him three days later from the grave.
Many people who heard these promises remembered his words. For on the day Jesus hung on the cross, the crowds who passed by spewed insults from below. They said ,“You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, then come down from your cross.”
But the crowds were not the only ones who remembered his promise. The day after he died, the chief priests and the Pharisees plotted with Rome. For while they did not say it, they probably feared his promise would come true. Otherwise, why did Pilate feel he needed to send armed soldiers to set a seal on the stone, and to guard Jesus’ tomb?
No, the soldiers were not sent for fear his body would be stolen. Instead, they were sent to seal-out the hope for a better tomorrow. But their actions truly did not matter. For God promised he’d spring-forth renewal and life, and to draw all people near to him with his Spirit’s resurrection might. And this was the message I am sure the disciples believed amidst their fears, and cries of despair. No, the darkness would not win-out, Jesus would arise, putting to rest once and for all the curse of eternal gloom.