The Christian hope in the second coming of Jesus is not just about looking forward to a bright future. For the early Christians, the bodily resurrection of Jesus gave the promise of His return a solid reality. If He could come back from the dead—which they had witnessed for themselves—He would surely come back to complete the project of removing sin and its effects and renewing the world (see 1 Cor. 15:22-23).
For the apostle Paul, the resurrection was the key element of the Advent hope. He was prepared to stake the credibility of everything he preached on this crowning miracle in the story of Jesus: “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile” (1 Cor. 15:17, NIV). Think about his words here and how important the resurrection of Christ is to all that we hope for.
Read 1 Corinthians 15:12-19. How would you explain to an interested nonbeliever why the truth of the resurrection is so pivotal to Christian hope?
Witnessing the resurrected Jesus transformed the first disciples. As we have seen, Jesus had previously sent them out to announce and enact the kingdom of God (see Matt. 10:5-8), but Jesus’ death shattered their courage and smashed their hopes. Their later commission (see Matt. 28:18-20), given by the resurrected Jesus and powered by the coming of the Holy Spirit (see Acts 2:1-4), set them on the path of changing the world and living out the kingdom that Jesus had established.
Freed from the power and fear of death, the early believers lived and shared courageously in the name of Jesus (see, for example, 1 Cor. 15:30-31). The evil that brings death is the same evil that brings suffering, injustice, poverty, and oppression in all their forms. Yet, because of Jesus and His victory over death, all of this will one day end. “The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Cor. 15:26, NIV).
|In the end, no matter whom we help now, they will all eventually die anyway. What does this harsh truth teach us about how important it is to let others know of the hope they can find in the death and resurrection of Jesus?|