Today might possibly be the greatest day for celebration in the Christian calendar – the day Jesus emerged from the tomb.
“You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead.”
Acts 3:14-15 (NIV)
“We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen.”
Acts 10:39-40 (NIV)
“When they had carried out all that was written about him, they took him down from the cross and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead.”
Acts 13:29-30 (NIV)
When we understand the context of what Jesus went through, it becomes even more incredible that he rose from the dead not bleeding and wounded, but whole.
Crucifixion is known historically as the most cruel and hideous of tortures and the most wretched of deaths. Even the Romans pitied the victims. Jesus was tied to a post and whipped until his veins, muscles, sinews and bowels were laid bare, and the skin of his back hung in ribbons. A crown of thorns was pressed on his head. He was mocked and spat on as he carried his own cross to the place of crucifixion. Nails were hammered through his shins and wrists, and he was hoisted up where he slowly suffocated. They pierced his side through with a spear. Jesus’ followers prepared his body for burial and he was secured in a tomb sealed with a 3-tonne stone. The tomb was guarded by a squadron of Roman soldiers to ensure that no one attempted to steal the body. All of this has happened but don’t forget the God factor, which makes the impossible possible.
When C3 church was getting started, there was a long period of challenges and opposition. Time and again facing pressures of all kinds…but God had a plan. If we stay with him, we will get through whatever we are facing. Many of us right now are facing seemingly impossible circumstances. Maybe a loss of a job, or your business has closed, or you might not be able to make the payments on your mortgage. There are all kinds of very real problems that people are facing but we have a God who will help his people get through these difficulties. We must refuse to go into panic and anxiety because that takes us out of the connection with God and his power. Every time we stand up and believe in God, we see him act in our world and our hearts. He overcomes our mistakes and brings solutions. God is at the centre of this church and the centre of his people. No matter how much difficulty and challenge comes against us, we will emerge victorious because of the God who is within us. We must remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 16:18, that He will build His church, and the gates of hell will not overcome it.
“I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest in hope, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, you will not let your holy one see decay. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.”
Acts 2:25-28 (NIV)
Jesus wasn’t looking at the terrible events set before him regarding his death, he was looking at God. We can fully grasp how bad our situation is now, but despite that, we have joyful hearts because our sight is fixed on God, not our problems. Jesus had the hope and anticipation of the resurrection. He would come out of the grave full of joy. Despite all the pain and suffering he was experiencing, there was a joyfulness within Jesus because of that hope. This Easter, we are praying that hope will be in your heart, that God will work with you to bring you out of difficulty and into a fresh new day. No matter what is keeping you entombed, the power of God is greater. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 (NIV)
SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT
- Can you think of a difficult time you have gone through in your life where you maintained hope in the Lord to help you through?
- Can you think of some other scripture that offers hope during difficult times?
- What is the next step for you to live a more hope-filled life?
- Can you think of someone who could use an encouraging word or prayer this Easter?