Who imagined how much we all would give up this Lenten season? No parties. No concerts. No eating out. No school. No haircuts. No sports. No museums. No church worship gatherings, etc., etc. As challenging as all these “nos” are, the idea of sacrificing for the good of others is the ultimate theme of the Lenten and Easter season.
For friends and family of Jesus who followed him into Jerusalem the last time, his crucifixion seemed like a huge loss. Suddenly, no Messiah. No Lord. No Rabbi. No friend. No Jesus. The result was chaos and confusion. Not knowing what to think or do, it seemed whatever hope believers had in Jesus was merely wishful thinking. Doubt flooded their hearts and minds. Hopelessness crushed their spirits.
When the sun broke the darkness on Sunday morning and a small group of followers approached the tomb, hope reignited. The Lord had risen. Hope had risen. Not hope based on wishful thinking or far-fetched scenarios but hope anchored to eternal promises and undeniable truth. This was the hope of Easter.
The hopelessness that plagues our world today is caused by hoping in things that are temporal, things that can change the next day or the next hour. The betrayal of a friend, the bullying of a crowd, not enough likes of a posted photo or any number of other “here-today-gone-tomorrow” things that people believe give meaning to their lives fail and hope slips further away, turning out to be no hope at all.
Like many others, I have struggled these past weeks, ever since the full force of the COVID-19 pandemic started to impact our communities. It’s a desperate, discouraging reality, to witness so much suffering, to see so much fear for their lives and livelihoods. Who wouldn’t be feeling down and uncertain about what lies ahead?
But hope that rises on Easter is rooted in the eternal, making it the antidote to hopelessness. The resurrection was a promise made and kept reaching back to the earliest days of humanity. Rebellion against God broke our world and created a gulf separating the Creator from the ones he created. God knew his image-bearers would need him to bridge that gap. Only his sacrifice could create that bridge. No sooner had rebellion entered the scene than God promised to make a way for the two to be together again. The plan of redemption began, grace was extended, and hope was born. Jesus was the promise fulfilled.
The hope of Easter has no expiration date nor is it limited to certain people. It is eternal and universal – available to everyone. The foundation of hope formed by the divine promise made and kept provides solid footing for those who believe. The promise of restoration made in the beginning of history, fulfilled in the first century now stretches on into eternity. The eternality of the promise makes the resulting hope of Easter unique and real!