Today is Good Friday, many businesses and schools are closed. Later today, as sunset approaches, Trinity and Redemption will join Christians around the world in Good Friday services, as we read through a recounting of the horrific hours leading up to the crucifixion.
If that was all there was to the life of Jesus; then we will all be wasting our time this evening.
At the conclusion of 1 Corinthians (chapter 15) the Apostle Paul, a former Pharisee, who was called by God to spend the rest of his life pouring it out on behalf of the gospel, writes;
"14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied."
Let's just sit with that for a moment.
Without the resurrection, all of our prayers that "his kingdom come, and that his will be done, on earth as it is in heaven," are in vain. But not just the prayers, all the efforts that Christians have spent in caring for the helpless and the hurting, the poor and the homeless are a waste; as is our pursuing justice for the oppressed. Without the resurrection, all of these are just an exercise in pursuing some culturally relative understanding of "the common good." We would all do better to make sure that all our efforts in caring for those around us were evaluated through a singular question, "What's in it for me?"
Without the resurrection, our prayers for our workplaces, our communities, and our leaders have no value. Springfield and Washington are a hopeless, pointless, mess.
Without the resurrection, all of our prayers for "our daily bread" are pointless. Stop praying for "our" daily bread and worry about getting all that you can for yourself. The person who said that we should do this, that there was a God who cared, was a liar or a lunatic.
Without the resurrection, we should also stop praying for our children and investing the pointless hours that we spend teaching them Scripture and how to live the lives that God has called us to live in this world. Because, when we lay in at bed night, pouring our hearts out in petition, there is no one to offer us hope that our prayers will be acted upon.
Without the resurrection, we might as well go ahead and seek vengeance on the person that has wronged us. Forgiving them, unless there is something in it for us, is a futile exercise.
Without the resurrection, there is no hope that we will be delivered from evil, and we are left to deal with the suffering pain and misery that we so often encounter in any way we can.
Without the resurrection, we are still in our sins, and will not be forgiven (if there even is a God).
In other words, without the resurrection, not only is there no benefit to experiencing the life-changing love of Jesus, there is an even greater tragedy in seeking to extend it to others.
Tonight, we will CELEBRATE Good Friday because that is not how the life of Jesus ended. We will leave our Good Friday services looking forward to returning on Sunday morning.
The Apostle Paul, who gave up his life for the gospel, tells us why.
20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
Because of the resurrection, there is nothing greater than experiencing and extending the life-changing love of Jesus Christ, in our homes, our workplaces, and our communities.
He is Risen!
Image: "He Ain't Here", Stephen Evans, 2018