April 4-5, 2021
Pastor Timothy J. Spaude
Text: 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
“CERTAIN HOPE FOR UNCERTAIN TIMES!”
1. Easter gives us hope for uncertainty in this life.
2. Easter gives us hope for a certain life to come.
1 Corinthians 15:19-20 (EHV) “If our hope in Christ applies only to this life, we are the most pitiful people of all. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”
Uncertainty, not knowing, is the worst. You are left hanging, paralyzed, unable to act and not knowing which way to go. So if you apply for a job that you really want it’s the waiting that’s the hardest part. Did I get it or not? Once I know I can act one way or the other. Or take the biopsy. Is it cancer or not? Uncertainty again leaves you hanging, wondering, what should I plan for. So when you are waiting for some needed news that will be either good or bad it’s better to know. Then you can act. Uncertainty, uncertainty is the worst. We are so glad to be able to worship online and in person this Easter. It was good to know we could plan on having this service but we certainly have had more than our fair share of uncertainty this past year, haven’t we? If you are like me, you felt pulled back and forth by experts. Things that we were told were true one week weren’t true the next week. Things I thought for sure would happen didn’t happen. The waiting was the hardest part. Will the economy tank or bounce back? Will I keep my job or lose it? Will we be able to go back to in person worship, in person school, or not? What keeps you going in uncertain times is hope. Hope that things will get better.
What are you hoping for this morning? Do you hope this virus goes away or the vaccines work so life can go back to normal? Do you hope that our nation can somehow heal? Is your hope more personal for something like a job or healing or for a relationship? It’s important to have hope. It’s also important that your hope is well placed. So often the hope people have is no hope at all but just a wish, a dream, “Wouldn’t it be great if..” but there is nothing backing that hope or wish. That’s why it’s good for us to be here, to be listening. We are celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and what we shall see is that what happened outside of Jerusalem that first Easter Sunday almost 2000 years ago gives us a sure and certain hope, hope backed by Christ.
It gives us hope for the uncertainties of this life. Jesus has made many promises to you, promises filled with hope. He has promised never to leave you or forsake you. He has promised you that with Him in your life you never face any problem alone. He has promised to work all things in your life for the good. He has promised that He is ruling all things, including governments of this world, for the good of the church and that means for your good. He has promised that He has all power to provide for you and protect you and He is using it. He has promised to hear and answer all of your prayers based on what is best for you. He has promised you that He loves you unconditionally. He has promised you that His death has paid for every one of your sins in full, that you are forgiven.
All those promises are meaningless if Jesus’ bones are buried in some cave somewhere outside of Jerusalem. None of these promises can be true. None of God’s promises can be trusted. You have no hope for this life if Christ has not been raised from the dead. But He did rise from the dead! Read all of 1 Corinthians chapter 15 today if you want and rejoice. Rejoice as it reveals Jesus lives! In addition to the eyewitness accounts from Matthew’s Gospel and Mark’s Gospel and the ones Luke so carefully researched and wrote down in his gospel and the eyewitness account of John in his Gospel, Paul reminds us of the time the risen Lord Jesus appeared to over 500 people at one time and then to Paul himself. Jesus is risen and that means you have certain hope for the uncertainties of this life.
So go ahead and smile and be happy and have hope, hope in Jesus. Hoping for our lives to return to normal is just a wish, but hope in Jesus gives me confidence that because He lives we get to know that even if we don’t get back to normal He will work abnormal for our good. Hoping I get a certain job I have my heart set on is a wish. Hope in Jesus gives the peace that my living Lord Jesus will provide for me in the best way and if I don’t get that job it’s because my living Lord Jesus has a better one for me. Hope that our country will heal or a relationship will make it is a wish. But hope in the living Lord Jesus gives me the comfort of knowing my part in causing division in our nation and my part in ruining a relationship has been forgiven and I am free to live today in a way that promotes healing and peace. Hoping grandma’s cancer goes away is a wish but hope in Jesus gives me the calmness of knowing grandma will get better.
Recently I was told of a retired pastor who had just gotten the news that he had an inoperable brain tumor, likely 6 months to live. A relative who did not know of this diagnosis happened to call him and ask how he was feeling. “OK,” he said, “but pretty soon I’ll feel perfect!” How could he say that? He could and did because not only does our living Lord Jesus give us certain hope for the uncertainties of this life but he also, and more importantly, gives us certain hope for the life to come.
That’s what the Apostle Paul was emphasizing in the section of 1 Corinthians I read to you. “If our hope in Christ applies only to this life, we are the most pitiful people of all. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” I appreciate honesty. Paul’s words very bluntly remind us that a day is coming when hope for this life won’t matter any more because this life will end. That’s not a popular message in an America where many citizens strive to hold on to every last breath but it’s true. The death rate for Americans still stands at 100%. What then? It’s good to have hope in Christ for this life. It changes attitudes and outlooks. But this life ends. Then what? If there is nothing more we are the most pitiful people of all.
“But” and I hesitate to say this, however, this is a really big “but.” But what? But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Jesus lives! Do you see what this means? We have certain hope for the life to come. Paul called Jesus the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. Since we live in an urban area we really don’t focus on what firstfruits are or mean. Firstfruits are exactly what they sound like, the very first part of a crop that is ready to harvest. It’s the first daffodil to break ground, but it’s not the last. It’s the first apple or cherry blossom to show, the promise that more are coming. It’s the first ear of juicy Wisconsin sweet corn waiting to pop in your mouth, but more are coming.
Here is hope, certain hope for the life to come. Let’s go back to grandma’s cancer. You love grandma. She loves you more. Throughout her life she has been there loving, hugging, smiling. She has prayed for you and pointed you to Jesus her Savior by word and example. You pray for her to get better. She will! She will! Because Jesus lives. Whether the cancer takes her or something else she will not end when this life ends. She will fall asleep in Jesus and as He rose from the dead as the firstfruit she will follow as the second or more likely billionth. You will be with her again. Now if it’s not Grandma you are hoping to see, who is it? Picture them. Easter gives certain hope for the life to come. It’s happening.
Now look at what that does to the here and now. This life can frustrate you but it cannot break you. It can vex you but it cannot defeat you. It can drag you down but it cannot put you out. It can cause you pain and your heart to ache but it cannot control you and does not define who you will be nor will the hurts and pains last. The Devil and the unbelieving world can try to marginalize you as much as they want but they will be the ones on the margins just hoping to get to be what we are, but their hope is nothing more than a wish that will never happen. But you, you will live forever in the glory and joy of heaven where no pain can touch you, no hope goes unfulfilled, no sin can make you feel guilty and no relationship break your heart. Why? Because Jesus lives! Certain hope for the life to come.
Friends, I am quite certain that if I could tell you and the rest of America for a fact that all Covid related inconveniences would end tomorrow there would be great joy and happiness—for a little bit. At least until the next fear producing crisis came. If I told you, you would get that job that you really want or your house offer would be accepted you would be thrilled--for a bit, until the job or house became one more thing in this life you take for granted as we all find it so easy to do. However I can’t tell you any of those things with any certainty. What I can tell you is Jesus lives. And because He lives you can always count on a brighter tomorrow. Christ is risen. He is risen indeed! Amen.