As I write the pandemic is exploding. Schools are shutting. Many businesses are at risk. Things we took for granted are gone. Shelves in the shops are empty and we’re counting the number of loo rolls. Our health is under threat and for many the future is very uncertain and bleak.
To be without hope threatens the meaning of our existence; to live without hope is too painful but Coronavirus has shattered blind optimism and short-sighted escapism. In the face of such a threat we need a better hope, a hope that will not be snatched away by death!
It is at this point that the Christian message is such good news. The Bible looks forward to the hope of eternity with Christ. There is no degree of risk or disappointment. It cannot be frustrated. Unlike all our other hopes it won’t disappoint. It is guaranteed by God himself and bears his signature: the resurrection of Jesus. The apostle Peter writes: ‘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’. This hope is so different! It is not based on my circumstances. It comes through Jesus’ resurrection, and is therefore independent of the news headlines. It is grounded in what God has done in raising Jesus. And because that event has happened, it is secure. Not wishful thinking, but guaranteed hope.
The apostle Paul declares: ‘Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep’.
The resurrection of Jesus was not just a one-off event. It was the firstfruits, the initial part of the harvest that indicates more is to come. All who are in Christ will be made alive; his resurrection is the guarantee and demonstration of what is to come for those who trust in him. Someone once said it’s like watching slow-motion footage of a dam bursting. At first there is a slight bulge. Then a crack appears, followed by a spurt of water. The spurt becomes a jet and before long the entire section of dam gives way and the whole lake empties. It started with just one small spurt. But that small spurt ‘guaranteed’ that the rest was to come. The same is true of Christ and those united to him: where he goes they will follow. In his resurrection he is the first of many. There is a hope that shines through the worst of times!