Hope depends on our imaginations –– does that sound crazy? As kids, hope comes easily to us because we can imagine our ways out of almost anything we feel trapped by. As we become more “realistic” and grow up, sometimes we lose our sense of imagination too. And when we can’t imagine how our circumstances could be different, we lose hope. That’s why it takes the imagination of God himself to really shake us up and give us hope. In the craziest rescue mission the world has ever seen, God himself paid the price for everything we couldn’t fix, securing healing and hope for us forever. That’s what we celebrate at Easter, and that’s why we have an unstoppable hope!
1. The resurrection may sound like nonsense.
- Much like the other important moments of Jesus’ ministry, he announced his resurrection in the most unexpected ways. It was the women who testified of Jesus’ resurrection. This might not seem shocking to us, but in that culture, a woman’s word was not considered to be good evidence. God chose them to be the first bearers of the good news, but their news sounded like nonsense to the apostles.
- It’s easy to look down on the apostles and wonder why it was so hard for them to believe. After all, didn’t Jesus tell them that he would rise again? Then again, maybe we understand exactly how they felt. Maybe this story sounds like impossible nonsense to us today. Maybe we’re hesitant just like they were.
- The story of the Resurrection inspired doubt in the disciples, and they were his closest friends. The story continued to stir up conflict and doubt throughout history, and maybe some of us are still full of doubt. Even if we believe the Resurrection account, we might have areas in our lives where we struggle to believe in what God has done.
Reflect on your own journey with doubt. Are there any works of God that feel like “nonsense” to you right now? Are there any ways you’re doubting who God is or what he’s doing in the world?
2. But the resurrection was fact-checked.
- The fact that truth is stranger than fiction, doesn’t make it untrue. While the Resurrection is an amazing account, it’s not just a story we believe on blind faith. The Resurrection was fact-checked. If Jesus had not been resurrected or if the Resurrection had been staged, Christianity would never have existed.
- The historical accounts of Josephus, record the events surrounding the early church. The apostles were not simply trying to spread their new religion on a wild claim. They had evidence and five-hundred witnesses and they were willing to die over the belief that Jesus was risen from the dead.
- If the Resurrection story were not true, one good sweep of fact checkers would have wiped out Christianity before it had ever begun. Yet, despite all of the evidence, people still struggle to accept the truth of the Resurrection. That’s because, even the simplest most common fact requires a certain amount of faith.
- If we’re struggling to accept the truth of the Resurrection, we are not alone in our journey of faith. God wants to meet us here and reveal himself to us. All we need to do is ask. The story of his Resurrection is not something that just made a difference to the disciples two-thousand years ago. It is a truth for us today that has the power to change our reality, if we let it.
What are the steps of faith God is asking you to take right now? What are the facts or truths you can rely on that make your faith, not blind, but informed?
3. Let Jesus give you peace.
- In the midst of our own struggles and doubts, we often forget that Jesus ultimately desires to give us peace. Just as he greeted his disciples, our Resurrected Savior offers peace to us.
- The Hebrew word for this is “Shalom.” It was (and still is) a common greeting to wish peace upon the person you were speaking to. Jesus offered this greeting to His disciples, but He wasn’t simply greeting them. He was announcing a new age of peace for His people.
- The peace he offered to them is still available to us today. This is a peace that we cannot explain, a peace that is not determined by our situation, a peace that passes understanding. Jesus suffered and died to bring us into that peace, and He rose again to announce it.
- The peace that is offered to us is not a false peace. It is not the peace of denial that ignores doubts and questions. Jesus is not scared of our doubts or questions. He is not trying to hide the truth from us, very much the opposite. He stands waiting, ready for our doubts and our questions, ready to offer us the peace that His ultimate Truth can bring. It is our choice whether or not we will receive it.
Are you allowing Jesus to give you peace? Where do you need his peace right now, and what would it look like for you to embrace the peace Jesus offers you freely?
4. Join Jesus in new life.
- Resurrection is a process, one that we don’t always talk about. We like talking about new life, but the first step in the resurrection process is death. This is both terrifying and wonderful news. Many of us long for new life, but we don’t want to let go of the old things that need to die. We are told in the Scriptures that old things have passed away and all things have become new. We must surrender the old things in order to discover the new life Jesus wants to bring us.
- The wonderful part of the resurrection process is that God does the work. In our broken state, all humans can offer God is our temporary life that leads to death, and he can work with that. It is His miraculous power, and not our own effort, that brings us new life. When we surrender the deadness in our lives, He is free to make us new, whole, resurrected people.
- This is what resurrection is all about. Jesus desires to bring us new life. He took on the power of death for us and now invites us to share in His victory over the grave.
What areas within your heart or in your life does God want to renew? What hopes or dreams feel “dead” right now? How does Jesus’ resurrection bring new life to those things?
Optional Follow-up Questions:
- What makes you say that?
- How do you feel about that?
- How would you explain your answer to a non-Christian friend or neighbor?
- Why did God design it to work that way? Why not just do (whatever else) instead?
- What would you say to someone who disagrees with that?
- Why do we really have to do it like that? Why can’t we just go (some other route) instead?