The resurrection of Jesus transformed his first disciples from a spirit of defeat and despair into men of joy and hope. This transformation explains why they changed the world as they proclaimed the wonderful message of Jesus and the resurrection. They faced great opposition from their own people, and from the Roman world, but were unafraid. Some of them died for their faith, but the number of Christians grew as people from all backgrounds found new life in Jesus.
Christianity centres on the person of Jesus, who died for our sins and rose again to give us hope. Christians put their faith in Jesus, not in their religious observances. They don’t think they are better than other people, but are deeply conscious of their personal failure and need. They rejoice that Jesus has done everything to secure their salvation and gratefully rest in him as their Saviour. They have been delivered from the need to achieve their own salvation and are free to live for Jesus and to tell others about him.
We live in a sceptical and cynical world in which many people are too sophisticated to believe in God and Jesus. Evolutionary theory dominates. It offers no hope to the human spirit, but declares its doleful message, “When you’re dead, you’re dead!” Yet the evidence of our wonderful creating God is plain for all to see. He created this amazing universe and our earth, which teems with life. He created each of us, and put eternity in our hearts. We were made to live with him for ever.
I recently attended a funeral of a very good friend, who had died after a short illness. Together with the family we gathered on a sunny afternoon to bury his body. It was a time of real sadness, but also great joy. As we sang around the grave we were surrounded by the beauty of God’s creation. We could see the daffodils and hear the birds. Our friend’s body was lovingly laid in the grave, just as Joseph and Nicodemus lovingly laid the body of Jesus in the tomb. We did so in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through Jesus. We sang, “When I stand in glory, I shall see his face, and there I’ll serve my King forever, in that holy place.” Our dear friend had died but now, because of the risen Jesus, he is more alive than he has ever been.