The Hope of Easter

By Dr. Jack Graham

After the soul-warming reconciliation with Peter, the proof-of-life presentation to Thomas, and the amazing encounter with the disheartened followers on the Road to Emmaus, it was time for Jesus to return to His rightful place at the right hand of His Father (Mark 16:19). He had previously directed the disciples to go to a mountain in Galilee (Matthew 28:16).

And Jesus came and said to them, “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” —Matthew 28:18–20

And it was then that Christ ascended into Heaven, not to return again until the Second Coming. And the disciples “worshipped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God” (Luke 24:52–53).

From Jerusalem, the hope in the hearts of these disciples spread like wildfire across the world. The religious authorities would try to stifle this hope; the Roman Empire would try to crush it; and the pagans would try to pervert it; but the truth would succeed.

And the truth is that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and He came to live in this fallen world on a mission to die on the Cross to redeem us from our sins that condemn us to an eternity separated from our Creator, God the Father.

In His death, He saved us; in His Resurrection, He has raised us! He has defeated sin, death and the grave.

Because Jesus lives, we have a future and a hope with Him! He has delivered and conquered death! And therefore, we live in hope!

Hope is the certainty, the security that because of the Resurrection, our future as believers is in His hands. And because of Easter, because Jesus is alive, we have this incredible hope and future. And that means when your future may seem uncertain, when your dreams seem to die, you can trust in a Savior who is alive, whose promises He keeps, and your hopes never die because of the empty tomb!

And when we die or when He comes again, we will be united forever. No wonder the Bible calls this hope the “blessed hope”. We’re not home yet, but we will be soon, because God said, “I’m going to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).

Hope is so much more than wishful thinking or personal optimism. Hope is not in ourselves! Our hope is not in what we can do, but in the living Lord! Our hope is not in our financial security. We know how fast—how quickly—that can go away. Our hope is not in our physical ability. Our hope is not in our emotional stability. Our hope is not in our intellectual acuity. Our hope certainly is not in our political activity. If your hope is in politics, God help you! Our hope, our certain and sure hope, is in Christ and Christ alone!

Because Jesus Christ is alive, every day is Easter … every experience is an Easter experience, whether going to work or eating a meal or carrying your kids to a ball game; whatever it is. Every day is a holy day. Every deed is a holy deed, because Jesus lives in us. Jesus never intended for any of us to live the Christian life in our own strength and our own power, but we are to be fueled by the fire of the Resurrection.

Here is how to gain that hope – “H-O-P-E”:

“H” – He HELPS us.

He helps us to cope with the reality of disappointment, with the darkness of disappointment. As you know Christ personally, you know Easter is more than a religious observance. It is the reality of a personal relationship with the Risen Christ. If He died for you, don’t you think He will listen to you and help you in your despair? You can hear Jesus if you listen very closely; you can hear Jesus calling your name today just as He called Mary Magdalene’s name while she was weeping.

“O” – He OPENS to us the possibility of comeback after defeat.

You can come back because Jesus came back, and you can be restored and renewed. Because you’ve experienced sinful failure in your life, you wonder, “Can God forgive me?” He is always open to us, no matter our failings. Remember Peter’s reconciliation? He had personally seen all of the miracles and heard all of the teachings, yet when times got tough, despite his bravado, the big, burly fisherman had failed miserably. He denied Christ three times, once to a mere young servant girl. He was such a great man in so many ways, but he fell, and he fell hard. He wept bitterly over his failings, and must have wondered whether he had lost his salvation. But that weeping and cowardice ceased when Jesus reached out to him again at Galilee. From then on, He would be a bold fisher of men. What a comeback!

“P” – He PROVIDES with us an answer in the darkness of doubt.

Recall Doubting Thomas. After the Resurrection, Thomas missed that first Easter. He wasn’t there when Jesus revealed Himself to His disciples, and so when he heard the news that Christ was alive, he said he would not believe until he put his hand in the nail-pierced scars of Jesus. And guess what? Jesus condescended to this man’s doubt because He knew in Thomas’s heart that he really wanted to know Jesus. God provided the answer to the cynical Thomas; He can do the same for you.

“E” – He ENABLES us to conquer death.

Death is the ultimate and final enemy. And when we know Christ, we know the Risen Christ. Because we have a personal relationship with Jesus, we live every day in the fullness of His power. We can live every day sustained and strengthened by His presence living in us. We don’t have to wait to get to heaven to enjoy the experience of knowing the Risen Christ; we can know Him now.

And don’t let it end with Easter Sunday because we should celebrate the Resurrection every day. We should experience Easter every day.

Dr. Jack Graham serves as Pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church, one of the largest and most dynamic churches in the country.

This article was originally published in The Hope of Easter by Dr. Jack Graham. If you are interested in receiving a free copy of The Hope of Easter, please contact Jack Raymond at jraymond@prestonwood.org.

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