Dr Jeremiah Johnston, author of ’Body of Proof: The 7 Best Reasons to Believe in the Resurrection of Jesus-and Why It Matters Today’ shares his thoughts on this painful topic
Jesus’ resurrection is the only reason we can make sense of the suffering in our life. When we look at Romans 8:18, the apostle Paul said: “I don’t count these sufferings worthy to be compared with the glory that I will receive someday in heaven.” Paul said: “Better for me to die in Christ than to live.” He was looking constantly to the hope of the resurrection as the answer to all the suffering.
The apostle Paul is called the Job of the New Testament – just check out 2 Corinthians if you want to know how badly he suffered. He said: “I feel like I’m walking around with a sentence of death on me, I don’t even want to go on living. But if I look behind me, God’s delivered me, if I look in front of me, he is going to deliver me and he’s delivering me now.”
We’re given a promise in 1 Thessalonians 4: we grieve, but we don’t grieve without hope for our loved ones. This may be your first Easter without a loved one. My heart goes out to you and I want you to know the living hope that the resurrection inspires. 1 Peter 1:3 says: “Praise be to our God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with a living hope, because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
The resurrection is what will ultimately make sense of all our suffering.
How the resurrection brings hope
If Jesus really rose from the dead, it brings us hope in the midst of our suffering. Firstly, because of the hope we have in Jesus, we can talk about anyone we love who has died in the Lord in the present tense. I think about my little sister Jenilee. They lost their stillborn son, Wesley, at 25 weeks and we say his name in the present because Wesley is with Jesus Christ right now.
Jenilee wrote on a blog: “The first time our son opened his eyes, he saw Jesus.” My heart goes out to Jenilee, because she still struggles with the pain of that loss. She’ll never be healed from it. But she does have hope. We can have these competing emotions, we can be sad and full of hope at the same time – a living hope.
The second reason we can have hope is that we’re promised to be reunited again. No other religion makes this kind of claim that we’re going to be reunited physically, bodily forever with our loved ones who have died in the Lord. Why can we have hope? Because Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15 - after 57 verses - he says: “Therefore be strong, be immovable. Know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.”
Everything you do for God today counts because of the resurrection.
Finally, another reason to live in hope is because we are the people who bring hope. There is no hope except through the resurrected Christ. We see that Paul was able to have hope despite terrible circumstances. If he can do that, I certainly can. And that’s the hope that energises us every day – a living hope, according to 1 Peter 1:3.
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Why the resurrection matters today
We live in a world where so many people have given up, they wonder what the point of life is. We live in a time where society has largely given into despair. The resurrection of Jesus matters today, because it shows that our life can be poured out in purpose, living for our resurrected Lord.
We can pour out our life in a God-honouring way, because we know that everything we do for God matters not just today, but for all eternity. That’s why we need this message of hope right now this Easter season.
This is an adaptation of Ruth Jackson’s conversation with Dr Jeremiah Johnston on Unapologetic. To hear more from Jeremiah, check out this episode.