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 there is a God there is hope, and somehow this hope is centred on the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
Making the leap from Resurrection to Hope
But how does this work? How can the resurrection of one man 2000 years ago lead many to hope today? Here's the journey....
#1: The Resurrection of Jesus proves that God intervenes in the world!
No other explanation for a man returning from the dead never to die again is there? Does God ever intervene in our world? Is he at work in the world of men and women? Yes, declares the resurrection in a powerful way. And 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 wordsThe greatest test of any man's authority lies in his predictions he makes about the future. If experts like the IBM chief predicted that the world would only need about 5 computers and Bill Gates predicted that no-one would need more than 640K of memory space on a computer, what hope for the rest of us in predicting tomorrow?
But Jesus predicted his resurrection and it happened, and so our confidence in all his other life-giving words of hope is secure. 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, take that punishment for us. And so he dies. But how do we know when or if the sentence 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 paid for in full and we are forgiven!
#4: The Resurrection of Jesus proves that God can overturn 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 regraded as the lowest of the low (a Roman could not be crucified). The cross was excruciating sin-transference - Jesus blamed for sins we committed. Is God able to take such a painful experience and bring good out of it? Why yes he is! 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, he says, what happened to him will happen to everyone who believes in him. So we should not say that the resurrection of Jesus is proof that there is life beyond the grave, we should say that it is the ticket to life beyond the grave!
The question is whether or not we will believe the Victor?