Episode 28: How did Jesus Destroy Death and Bring us Concrete and Rational Hope? + Have you ever been hit so hard by love at first sight that you CRIED?!
Welcome into episode 28 – we are now four weeks into doing a daily Bible podcast. Thank you to those who have been here since the beginning all those many days ago and welcome aboard to any newcomers. As a reminder – our goal is to be in God’s Word daily and encourage others to do the same. No need to go back and read yesterday’s readings, unless you just have the time to do that and want to. Please share the show with friends and family!
My son recently asked me what my favorite episodes were so far, and I thought that was a good question. Here are five I particularly enjoyed reading about, writing about, and recording the episode (not in a particular order):
Sunday’s Episode about the devotion of Mary of Bethany and how she exemplifies the first and greatest commandment is a recent favorite.
The Nephilim episode, number 6, was a favorite because is a fun topic to discuss and research. For awhile it was the most popular episode in terms of downloads.
Are Christians bound to follow the Old Testament AND the New Testament is a very important question that most Christians don’t think about enough from a scriptural perspective.
Last week’s episode on the Last Days/End Times emphasizes that the WHEN is not the most important thing, but our readiness for the return of Jesus the King.
Finally, Judging is a very misunderstood teaching in the Bible. Some people judge others way too much, while others believe the Bible forbids every type of judgment. The biblical answer is somewhere between those two extremes.
Today’s episode is focused on what I believe is the central event of Christianity and our great hope – the resurrection, AKA the victory of Jesus over death. Interestingly, the Bible speaks of death as an enemy, and anybody who has lost a loved one can testify that death does indeed come like an enemy and causes tremendous heartache and pain.
25 For He must reign until He puts all His enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy to be abolished is death.1 Corinthians 15:25-26
Three days after His grisly death on the cross (See yesterday’s episode on the crucifixion…), Jesus walked out of the tomb alive again, having handed death its first permanent defeat. Often, when I talk about the resurrection, I seek to give people reasons to believe that the resurrection of Jesus was a REAL historical event that factually happened. The second book I wrote, Easter: Fact or Fiction, has twenty of those reasons to believe in the resurrection, and it is probably my favorite book of those I’ve written. If you interested in apologetics, it might be worth checking out. Rather than take an apologetics/reasons to believe approach today, I would rather simply focus on the HOPE that comes from the factual and historical resurrection of Jesus. Paul talks twice about that hope in the famous resurrection chapter (1 Corinthians 15):
If I fought wild animals in Ephesus with only human hope,what good did that do me? If the dead are not raised, Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.1 Corinthians 15: 32
16 For if the dead are not raised, Christ has not been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. 18 Therefore, those who have fallen asleep in Christ have also perished. 19 If we have put our hope in Christ for this life only, we should be pitied more than anyone.1 Corinthians 15:16-19
In the first quote above, Paul talks about some of his harrowing adventures sharing the gospel in and around Ephesus, and is saying how worthless those brushes with death would have been if Paul and his team only had human hopes – if there is no resurrection, he is saying, go live a life of partying and pleasure, because you’re just going to die suddenly one day. In the second passage, Paul is saying that there is no hope for Christians, and Christianity is the most pitiful religion and philosophy in the world if the resurrection isn’t real and factual. BUT IT IS REAL AND FACTUAL. Jesus has overcame death, and therefore He will overcome death in us:
20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also comes through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.1 Corinthians 15:20-22
Because of this – we have hope, and I want to close with a meditation on hope I wrote a short while ago:
“Be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the Lord.” Psalm 31:24
A Meditation on Resurrection Hope:
Hope is one of my favorite things in all of the world, and I spend a lot of my time hoping for things. Often I hope for very rational things. I hope that my kids will be healthy this month. I hope that my wife and I will be good parents, good spouses, and good friends. I hope that our monthly income will be enough to cover our monthly outflow…that sort of thing. Other times, my hopes can be a little more colorful, which is a polite way to say extremely unrealistic.
As a young teenager, I desperately hoped to be able to one day have adamantium claws and a healing factor, so that I could be more like my childhood hero Wolverine. I later hoped to become a professional baseball player who would be a power pitcher AND a good hitter. Somebody who would hit at least a 300, with a few dozen homers to boot. Yeah…neither of those hopes have been even remotely fulfilled, and certainly never will. Alas. That’s the thing about hope – it is only as good and valuable as its object. Hoping that something will happen, does NOT make it more likely to happen, does it? That’s just not how hope works. The amount of hope we have in something does not correlate with the likelihood of that thing happening. Therefore, in order for hope to be a positive and valuable thing, the object of hope – the thing that is hoped for – must be solid and secure, or the only thing that will result from hope is disappointment.
The Bible doesn’t really talk about hope the way that most people do today. We might say, “I hope it rains.” or “I hope that Alabama wins the football game Saturday,” meaning that we have a desire for something to happen that is uncertain. We use the word ‘hope’ in a way that is synonymous with our desires – we might as well say, “I WANT it to rain.” or “I WANT Alabama to win Saturday.” That’s how most English speaking people use the word ‘hope.’ Biblical hope is not focused on something that is wished for…but something that is a certainty.
Consider 1 Corinthians 15:19, 32- “If we have put our hope in Christ for this life only, we should be pitied more than anyone….32 If I fought wild animals in Ephesus with only human hope, what good did that do me? If the dead are not raised, Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” What Paul means by that passage, which clearly contrasts human hope and biblical hope, is that the resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the source and object of biblical hope. If that hope is a false hope – if Jesus didn’t really/genuinely/historically rise from the dead – then Christians are the most pitiful fools and time-wasters in the entire world. The focus of biblical hope is the resurrection of Jesus, and it is a sure hope and anchor, according to Hebrews 6 – a certain and historical fact that is worthy of people putting the entirety of their confidence in. The Bible urges Christians to put their hope in certain things (like the resurrection) and warns Christians against putting their hope in uncertain things, like seemingly powerful armies/technology/human sources of power, etc. (“The horse is a false hope for safety; it provides no escape by its great power.” Psalm 33:17)
This biblical hope is intensely practical, and it informs everything about the Christian life. Consider these five hope-focused Scripture passages, and the practical implications they mention that are reality because of biblical hope:
- Biblical hope impacts the way we view death – the way we behave at funerals. Yes! Christians grieve in the face of death…but not as those who are of the world. “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, concerning those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who have no hope.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13
- Biblical hope is transformative – it changes our very nature, and makes us like Jesus. “Dear friends, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him because we will see Him as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself just as He is pure.” 1 John 3:2-4
- Biblical hope results in powerful and practical confidence. Not self-confidence, but God-confidence. “Therefore, having such a hope, we use great boldness. We are not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the Israelites could not stare at the the end of what was fading away.” Hebrews 3:12-13
- Biblical hope is a defining characteristic of the Christian life – it is absolutely essential. Those who do not possess a sure hope in the resurrection of Jesus are not actually Christians. “But Christ was faithful as a Son over His household. And we are that household if we hold on to the courage and the confidence of our hope.” Hebrews 3:6
- Biblical hope is protective, and the Bible compares it to armor. When our hope and focus is on the solid foundation of Jesus overcoming death, then we are protected from doubt and any other attacks from the enemy. “But since we belong to the day, we must be serious and put the armor of faith and love on our chests, and put on a helmet of the hope of salvation.” 1 Thessalonians 5:8
Hope is a beautiful thing, and it is a centerpiece and essential component of Christianity. We are defined by hope, and we should overflow with hope. (Romans 15:13) Because of hope, we should be bold and confident witnesses to a world full of wishers and dreamers. They are looking for something to place their hope in, but so many things have disappointed and failed them. Biblical hope will not. No matter what you are facing now, no matter how much your life or family has been devastated by the effects of the fall, no matter how hopeless you might feel, know that the fact is that Jesus is returning to redeem those who are His own. He is returning to make things right. He is returning to crush death, end sickness, and wipe away every tear. He is coming. It is a certain guarantee. Rest in that. Hope in that. Rejoice in that! Look to Him and live forever in realized hope.
“Let us strive to know the Lord. His appearance is as sure as the dawn. He will come to us like the rain, like the spring showers that water the land.” Hosea 6:3
“History ends with the resurrection. Resurrection is complete restoration, but only after death and destruction. This avoids the unbalanced optimism of modernity but also the hopelessness of dystopianism. On the final day of history, we know that our Redeemer will stand upon the earth, and that in our new resurrected bodies we will see God (Job 19:25-26) In the words of the poet Seamus Heaney “The longed-for tidal wave of justice can rise up — and hope and history rhyme.” – Tim Keller.https://www.redeemer.com/redeemer-report/article/when_hope_and_history_rhyme