A world without Hope
If we are alone in the universe, if there is no God, if there is nothing but matter and energy, then Richard Dawkins is probably right:
"In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”
A world that shows us "pitiless indifference" is a world in which there is no hope. We are born, we die, we rot - and that's the end of it. So Eat, Drink and be Merry, for Tomorrow we die.
The Gospel - the Good News of Jesus Christ - teaches that because of tyhe resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, there is hope.
From Resurrection to Hope
But how does this work? How can the resurrection of one man 2000 years ago lead us to hope today? Here's the journey....
#1: The Resurrection of Jesus proves that God intervenes in the world
There is no other way to explain the resurrection of Jesus Christ than to say God intervened in the world to bring a rotting corpse back to life.
There is in science, in point of fact, nothing to say that miracles like this can't happen. Natural law is the normal way God runs his universe, but there is not one line in science that precludes miracles.
Does God ever intervene in our world, we wonder? Is he at work in the world of men and women? Can he intervene in my life? Yes, declares the resurrection in a powerful way.
That one empty tomb signals a thousand and one other God-interventions.
#2: The Resurrection of Jesus gives authority to all of his other life-giving wordsPerhaps the greatest test of any man's authority lies in the predictions he makes about the future. Experts like a former IBM chief predicted that the world would only need about 5 computers! And Bill Gates once predicted that no-one would need more than 640K of memory space on a computer! Both wrong. Big time wrong.
But Jesus predicted his own resurrection and it happened, and so we can have confidence in all his other life-giving words of hope. Life-giving words such as:
"I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry
and he who believes in me will never be thirsty"
"Come to me all you who are weary and burdened
and I will give your rest"
"I am the light of the world, whoever follows me will not walk in
darkness but have the light of life."
#3: The Resurrection of Jesus signals that our sins have been paid in full
Strange leap this one, you may think. But God's just punishment upon our wrongdoing is death. God in his love sent his Son to die that death for us, to take that punishment that we deserve. And so he dies. But how do we know when or if the sentence upon him has come to an end? When he has un-died, when he has risen from the dead. And so the resurrection is the signal that all of our sins have been indeed been paid in full and we are forgiven!
#4: The Resurrection of Jesus proves that God can over-rule evil for good
The cross was a wicked injustice. Jesus had done no wrong. The cross was a painful experience: the Romans knew how to kill a man efficiently with maximum pain. The cross was an embarrassment to the victim - naked and regarded as the lowest of the low (a Roman citizen could not be crucified). Is God able to take such a painful experience and bring good out of it? Why yes he can! Jesus rises from the dead never to die again. Victor over the grave. Victor over sin. Victor over evil. Victor over injustice.
Can God do that in your life? Yes he can. Whatever the valley.
#5: The Resurrection of Jesus is proof that there is life beyond the grave
OK you could argue, only for one man. But remember his words have been authenticated, and he said, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will never die."
In other words, Jesus says that what happened to him will happen to everyone who believes in him. So the resurrection of Jesus is not only proof that there is life beyond the grave, it is the ticket to life beyond the grave!
The question is whether or not we will believe the Victor?