• David Schrader, PhD., National Pastor

I Have A Hope


Of all events in history, there’s none greater than the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Why is that? What does the resurrection of Jesus Christ really mean for our world? Jesus told Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying (Jn. 11:19)." Did you catch that? Jesus is the resurrection and the life, and anyone who believes in him could live, even after dying.


Have you ever considered this interesting statistic – one out of every one person will die? Granted, that's not a statistic that excites everyone. That's because death means different things to different people. To some people, death is an annihilation of any meaning that a life might have held while here on earth. Mark Twain sums up this nihilistic attitude like this:

A myriad of men are born; they labour and sweat and struggle . . . they squabble and scold and fight; they scramble for little mean advantages over each other; age creeps upon them; infirmities follow; ...those they love are taken from them, and the joy of life is turned to aching grief. It (the release) comes at last --the only un-poisoned gift earth ever had for them, and they vanish from a world where they were of no consequence. . . a world which will lament them a day and forget them forever. . . Then another myriad takes their place, and copies all they did, and goes along the same profitless road, and vanishes as they vanished – to make room for another, and another, and a million other myriads, to follow the same arid path through the same desert, and accomplish what the first myriad, and all the myriads that came after it, accomplished –nothing![1]

Twain captures what a lot of people feel about their earthy sojourn – it's an endless cycle of futility – a hopeless treadmill going nowhere. And this is especially true for those who spend their lives focussed on the temporal realm. That's why Jesus said in John 6:27, "Don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you." And in Matthew 16:26 he adds, "What do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?"


According to Jesus then – living our lives for only the things of this world – is to live an aimless existence. We would be much better off spending our energy seeking eternal life.


Then there are others that embrace life and death with a straight face. They know they are going to die, so, they garner a stiff upper lip and take life as it comes. Comedian Billy Crystal, in the movie City Slickers expresses this type of thinking. He plays the part of a bored baby boomer who sells radio advertising time. On the day he visits his son’s school to talk about his work along with other fathers, he suddenly lets loose with a deadpan monologue to the bewildered youngsters in the class:


Value this time in your life, kids, because this is the time in your life when you still have your choices. It goes by fast. When you’re a teenager, you think you can do anything, and you do. Your twenties are a blur. Thirties come and you raise your family, you make a little money, and you think to yourself, “What happened to my twenties?” In your forties, you grow a little pot belly, you grow another chin. The music starts to get too loud, one of your old girlfriends from high school becomes a grandmother. Then the fifties come, you have a minor surgery - you’ll call it a procedure, but it’s a surgery. In your sixties, you’ll have a major surgery, the music is still loud, but it doesn’t matter because you can’t hear it anyway.
In your seventies, you and the wife retire to Fort Lauderdale. You start eating dinner at 2:00 in the afternoon, you have lunch around 10:00, breakfast the night before, spend most of your time wandering around malls looking for the ultimate soft yogurt and muttering, “How come the kids don’t call? How come the kids don’t call?” Then the eighties come, you’ll have a major stroke, and you end up babbling with some Jamaican nurse who your wife can’t stand, but who you call mama.
Any questions?

Yes, Billy, I have a question. Then what? What happens after we come to the end of our lives? While it's not hard to smile at this dead-pan monologue, Crystal's reflection leaves us with a certain sense of futility. It provides little thought about the meaning of life, or to what happens to us after we die.


Jesus said that he came to give us a full life not just an existence. He said, "My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life (Jn.10:10)." Jesus also said, "I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!" (Jn. 15:10-11)


For those of us who have placed our faith in Christ, we know all about that satisfying life. Knowing that one out of every one person is going to die is not a depressing statistic for us as Christians. We have an abundant life with Jesus both here and now and we joyfully embrace the promise of eternal life with him after we die.


John Calvin, the great theologian framed it this way, " Let us consider this settled, that no one has made progress in the school of Christ who does not joyfully await the day of death and final resurrection." [2]


No, I am not saying that the Christian life is one that never experiences its share of suffering and pain. It's just that the hope and joy we have in Christ sustains us through these trials and difficulties. We know there is more to our existence than just what this world offers us. That's why we can joyfully await our appointment with death and the final resurrection.


The Apostle Paul spoke about this present tension between our suffering and the future hope of all Christians in Romans 8:21-24:

Creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. We were given this hope when we were saved.

While we groan together with all of creation awaiting our eternal redemption, Easter reminds us that we have the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, who gives us a foretaste of future glory. Easter is longing for a time when we will be fully released from sin and suffering. Easter is about a hope that God will give us the full rights as his children, a hope that includes the new bodies that he has promised.


That's why I can confidently say, "I have hope in this life because Jesus said he would be with me." "I have a hope beyond death that I will live eternally with Jesus – the resurrection and the life." How did I get this hope? I got this hope by believing in Jesus and asking him to forgive me of all my sins.


Paul said, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Easter is about God’s gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ.


This Easter, Christians around the world will recognize and celebrate the hope they have because of Christ's resurrection. They have chosen to follow him and to receive his free gift of eternal life.


I have a hope that you will do the same.


 

[1] Michael J. Kiskis, ed., 2nd edition, Mark Twain's Own Autobiography (The University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, 2010) p.28.

[2] John Piper, David Mathis, ed., With Calvin in the Theater of God: The Glory of Christ and Everyday Life, (Crossroads, Wheaton, IL. 2010), 130.

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