“If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Corinthians 15:19-20 ESV)
What if you had been a follower of Jesus the night He was betrayed? What if you were Peter, or James, or John, or Mary Magdalene? Maybe you would have been like the disciples who deserted Christ at His arrest. Maybe you would have been like Peter who denied Jesus three times – this after Jesus predicted he would and he strongly disagreed, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” (Matt 26:35). Maybe you would have been like Mary Magdalene. Jesus had healed her, casting seven demons out of her. And she watched Him die on the cross.
The followers of Christ were devastated. The roster crowed, Peter wept bitterly, and now His Lord was dead. Mary Magdalene had followed her Healer with great hope, but now she followed a lifeless body as it was taken from the cross, laid in a tomb, and guarded by a great stone.
Jesus was gone.
Consider the disciples and the women as they entered the darkness of that first night after Jesus died. What were they thinking? “I don’t understand.” “How could this happen?” “Was He really who He said He was?”
What were they feeling? Fear? Despair? Pain of loss? Tears? Confusion? Disbelief? Hopelessness?
Hope seemed to be slipping away. And it would have disappeared completely… but then Sunday morning came.
On their way to the tomb, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary felt the earth shook. Mary arrived at the tomb to find the stone rolled away with a lightning white angel sitting there and guards passed out on the ground. She heard these words from the angel: “He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.” There was no body there. Mary was filled with great joy and ran to tell the disciples and ran… straight into Jesus. And the two women fell at his feet and worshiped Him. And He said, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers.”
Mary Magdalene went and told Peter and John and they ran to the tomb. They went in and saw Jesus’ clothes and believed. “For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead” (John 20:9). That evening Jesus appeared to them, showed His hands and His side, and the disciples were glad to see the Lord.
And thus, in a matter of a few days, the hope that had been crushed was rescued by Jesus who died, was buried, and rose again as He said He would.
Jesus rescued hope for all who trust in Him. He rescued our hope through His resurrection. For if we hoped in Christ in this life only, we would be most pitied. But we hope in a living Savior who conquered death and guarantees eternal life to all who come to Him by faith.
The resurrection restored rock-solid hope to the men and women who saw Jesus that great Sunday. And because Jesus is alive today, our hope in Him will never fail.