All Scripture Points to Jesus

I’d like for you to take a look at two verses at the end of the 2 books Luke wrote for us under the inspiration of Almighty God.

Luke 24:27 – And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

Acts 28:23 – When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets.

These two events occurred around three decades apart. The first is the Lord Jesus speaking about himself to the disciples who were traveling on the road to Emmaus. The second is Paul speaking to the Jews in Rome.

Do you see the common thread? The Scriptures testify to Jesus. God has promised and proclaimed the glory of Christ in the Old Testament for us to see. Abram found out about salvation by grace through faith alone and heard God’s promise to bless all people groups through Abram’s coming descendant. The law of God shows us God’s holiness, our sinfulness and helplessness, the principle of substitutionary atonement, and the idea of being made clean before God. The history of Israel shows us God’s faithfulness even to a sinful people as he preserves the family line of the promised Savior. The prophets promise a king to come who will rule the world, who will be holy and good, who will do justice, and who will be God with us. The prophets point us toward God’s coming promise of a new nation, a holy nation, made up of people from all nations under the rule of God’s promised King. Isaiah pointed us to a servant who would die to bear our sins and then rise again to eternal reward.

Christian, thank God for his word. Thank God for all of his word, Old Testament and New. Thank God for pointing to and promising Jesus in the Old Testament. Thank God for unveiling the mystery of the gospel in the New. Love the word of God and do not neglect any part of it.

The Church Is More Important Than You Realize

Acts 26:14-15 – 14 And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ 15 And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.

As Paul shares his testimony of his salvation, he points to the words of Jesus to him as he was traveling to Damascus. Jesus identified himself as the one Saul was persecuting. Realize that what Saul, later Paul, was doing was attacking and persecuting believers in Christ, the church.

Jesus said that to persecute his church was to persecute him. This must give us confidence and hope. This statement of the Savior reminds us of the importance of the church. Jesus sees an attack on his church as an attack on him.

Consider how this principle should impact how Christians think about the church. The church is more valuable than you realize. The church is more precious to Jesus than you realize. Your brothers and sisters in Christ are more important than you realize. Your participation in the church is more important than you realize.

May we love Jesus well by loving his church well.

Underhanded Ways or Open Proclamation

2 Corinthians 4:1–3 – 1 Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. 2 But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.

In this section of Scripture, Paul is describing some of how he and his associates have done ministry in Corinth. The apostle has recently highlighted how much superior the New Covenant is to the Old. And Paul has indicated that the presence of the Spirit of God who gives life rather than the letter of law that kills is something we celebrate.

In that context, Paul points out that he and his friends share the word of God without losing heart (v1). They will not be thrown off by those who are blinded so as not to believe (v3). And, as we see in verse 2, Paul will not use disgraceful or underhanded practices for the sake of ministry. Paul says that he and his associates refuse to practice cunning and to tamper with God’s word. Instead, Paul presents an open statement of the truth.

It is verse 2 that leaps out at me for application. There is no place in Christian ministry for disgraceful or underhanded practices. There is no place for sinning to grow the ministry. I think that Paul is pretty clear as to what that sort of disgraceful thing would be. There is no place for tampering with the word of God. Instead, there is only a call by God for faithful, honest proclamation of the word.

How different does a ministry look when it will not tamper with the word of God? Such a ministry would be one that tells the truth of God’s word without varnish. Such a ministry would not hide things in Scripture that are out of favor with society. While this ministry ought not be nasty and harsh, those in the ministry must be honest and simply proclaim the word of god as written. And, as we see in our present cultural moment, that will include the church saying things that would have our society turn against us for refusing to embrace their values.

Does your church use underhanded means? Is there something sneaky about what you do? Think it through more carefully. What does your church proclaim? What does your church try to hide? What does your church present to the community as essential to the Christian life? Is your church grown on the word of God and its proclamation, or are other strategies more central to your church’s growth? What things does your church do that have nothing to do with Scripture which, if they were removed, would make you feel like your ministry has been deeply harmed? What tools, if taken from your church’s toolbox, would make you feel like your church lost its identity. Would your church still be your church if faithful proclamation of the word of God was all you could do and all the rest was stripped away?

In the ministry we do, may we only ever be faithful. May we not be underhanded. May we never tamper with the word. May we proclaim God’s word honestly. Some will believe. Some will not. But what is most important is that we are faithful to the Lord in accord with the perfect word he has revealed.

A Fact Upon Which the Faith Rises or Falls

With Resurrection Sunday on the horizon, many Christians are thinking about the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. We are moved by the scenes of the love of Christ laying down his life to save us from our sins. We grieve with the disciples as we think of their loss at the sight of the sealed tomb. And we rejoice in wonder as we think of our mighty Savior walking out of the grave to physically live eternally.

As we think about these glorious truths, may we also remember that God, in his holy word, tells us that this truth, the truth of the resurrection of Jesus, is a truth upon which our faith either stands or falls. If Jesus is alive, Christianity is true. If Jesus is not physically alive right now, our faith is empty and meaningless.

1 Corinthians 15:17-19 – 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.

In this chapter, Paul is clearly responding against some in Corinth who are denying the physical resurrection of the dead. Part of Paul’s logic here is that, if indeed the dead are never raised, then Jesus was not raised. If Jesus is not raised, then we have lied about God and we have no eternal hope. If Jesus is not raised, Christianity is a farce.

Again, see the power of that language. If Jesus is dead, there is not a shred of hope. If, as some would claim, the resurrection of Jesus must be a figurative truth, a metaphorical truth, an in-your-heart truth, then there is no truth in the faith. If the body of Jesus lies in a grave, then claims of life in Christ are lies.

Christians, our faith stands or falls on the objective reality of the resurrection of Jesus. This is not an opinion question. This is not a morality question. This question is a factual and historical question of eternal significance.

So, let me proclaim truth to you today: Jesus is alive! He is not in the grave. His resurrection is not an imaginary wish or a figurative claim. The Son of God stood up, walked out of the tomb, and lives right now. Were Jesus still dead, a body would have been produced in the first century when claims of the resurrection began to spread. Were Jesus dead, his disciples would not have willingly gone to their own martyrdom to continue to proclaim Christ. The claim of resurrection would have fallen away nearly two millennia ago but for one thing: it is true.

What one believes about the resurrection of Jesus is a thing that impacts one’s eternity. If you believe in the resurrection of Jesus so as to run to him for grace, you have eternal life. If you reject the resurrection of Jesus or turn your back on the resurrected Jesus, you have no hope before God. Look at how Paul closes his letter to the Corinthians in the next chapter.

1 Corinthians 16:21–24 – 21 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. 22 If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. Our Lord, come! 23 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. 24 My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Love Jesus, and you have life. Do not love Jesus, and you are accursed by God. All this begins with a genuine belief in the fact that Jesus walked out of the tomb. Without a living Jesus, our faith is worthless. With a living Jesus, with love of the living Jesus, with grace from the living Jesus, we have eternal hope and eternal life.

The Goodness of Judgment

As Paul opens his second letter to the church in Thessalonica, he points to the faithfulness of the believers as well as the promise of the judgment of God on the lost. I have some thoughts here, but I want to include the section for you to read with its context.

2 Thessalonians 1:5-12 – 5 This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— 6 since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. 11 To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, 12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

My thoughts here are about the judgment of God. Particularly, I am thinking about God’s judgment in contrast with the way that many followers of God speak of his wrath. I believe, as I read this passage, that many of us, if we are not careful, are in danger of speaking of the wrath of the Almighty in a way that is inconsistent with biblical language and biblical emotion.

In verse 5, note that Paul speaks of “the righteous judgment of God.” In verse 6, Paul says, “God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you.” Then, after a discussion of the judgment of God in verses 8-9, Paul speaks of how this all should motivate us to obedience. But the motivation is not because we fear being judged in a similar way. Never biblically is the Christian called to fear the fiery judgment of Christ on the lost. No, we are called to obey because we see that God’s justice will be done and our afflictions will be repaid.

Go back to verses 8-9. There we see the fiery judgment of God that will accompany the return of the Lord Jesus. There is nothing in these words of Scripture to soften the picture of God’s wrath. We see a reference to flaming fire (v. 8), to the Lord Jesus inflicting vengeance (v. 8), and the punishment of eternal destruction (v. 9). In all this, we see that it points to the glory of Christ (v. 10) and he pours out the judgment of God on those who are guilty of not knowing God or obeying the gospel (v. 8).

Also, as we read this section, we should see that the Lord gave these words to a persecuted church for their comfort. God wanted the church to understand that his reward for their faith and faithfulness is real. God also wanted them to see that his proper justice for the evils of the world around them is equally real and equally good.

Now, here is the challenge for us all. How are we to feel about these words? Do you regret them? Do they embarrass you as a believer? Do you wish they were not there? Do you tolerate them like you have to tolerate having dental work done? Do you welcome them into the house the way you welcome in that one relative that you would always prefer not to see but whom you have to invite over for a cookout from time to time?

Here is where I think we need biblical help. Our emotions need to mirror the feel of the Scripture. And while we know that the Lord himself tells us he takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11), the Lord also makes it clear to us that his justice, even is wrath for those who refuse his gospel, is good; it is to his glory.

Christian, I would never call you to celebrate and laugh over another’s destruction. But, Christian, do not be ashamed of the judgment of God. Do not act as though god is a little lesser in your eyes for the existence of hell. Do not pretend that god is good in general, but if he really did things right, he would not judge.

Our god is holy. Our God sees evil with a clarity that you and I can never grasp before our ultimate and final sanctification leading to glorification. Until the Lord removes all your sin from you, you will never see just how ugly sin is nor how righteous and perfect is the Lord’s wrath.

But, even now, even before you can see with clarity the goodness of the Lord’s judgment, strive to embrace all that the Lord does as good, genuinely, beautifully, perfectly good. As heaven is good, so too is hell. Were this not so, God would not have made either. The Lord, his ways are perfect. Always, always remember this. And when you read of his love and mercy, rejoice. And when you read of his right wrath, ask the Lord to help you see this as his goodness too.

Biblical Commands that Will Never Come from a Conference Stage

1 Thessalonians 4:10b-12 – But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, 11 and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, 12 so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.

Paul had a little bit of time to instruct the young church in Thessalonica before he was driven out of that city under persecution. But Paul wanted to be sure that the believers there were OK. After all, when he left them, it was hard to know how they would respond to his suffering much less their own.

Sending Timothy back to get a report, Paul found out that the church in this city was thriving, even in the face of hardship. That fact gave Paul joy, and it led him to want to remind them of some very simple instructions. We see things like a call to remain pure and avoid the sexual immorality so prevalent in their culture (4:3) and to continue to love one another as faithful brothers and sisters in Christ (4:9).

Then we see a three-fold bit of counsel which got my attention. Paul, writing to a young church about what they need to be doing, tells them to live quietly, mind your own affairs, and work with your own hands. I wonder, does this surprise you? When you think of the kinds of commands that you would send a church functioning under a bad government and facing persecution, do these come to mind?

The reason that this surprises me simply has to do with the way that it sounds so different than much of the language out there about what the church is supposed to be. Go to any denominational meeting. Go to any church growth seminar. Go to any big-time conference about building up a strong church. I assure you that this is not the counsel you will get. You will hear people tell you how it is your job to transform the world. You will hear people tell you that it is your job to become prominent in your community, an indispensable asset. They’ll tell you that you need to get your church branded so that people recognize you.

In other theological corners, we will find folks letting us know that it is our job to bring about political change. Perhaps we need to lobby Washington. Perhaps we need to march and protest. Perhaps we are simply going to transform the world through our powerful evangelism.

The truth is, I’m not against being a good neighbor in the community. I’m not against making sure people know that your church is there. I’m not against voting for good candidates, even campaigning for good leaders. And we have every right to join in appropriate protests. But, and this is what gets me, the commands that we see quite clearly in Scripture look different.

Love one another. Live pure. Then, as we see above, live quietly. When have you ever heard a pastor or church growth guru tell you to live quietly? Keep your head down and be faithful to the Lord. When does anybody say that? Mind your own business. Paul tells us this, but I do not see that modeled in our social engagement or in our social media engagement. Get a job and work hard to be as self-sufficient as you can in your society. I am starting to hear a little more of that command.

Share the gospel, that is a biblical command. Make life better for the persecuted and the genuinely oppressed. But do not forget the word of God that was actually written to churches in passages like the one above. Love God. Live pure. Love one another. Live a simple life, a quiet life. Mind your own business. Feed your family. And continue to faithfully worship the Lord together.

I’m not writing this to call anybody to abandon their heart for evangelism or for changing the world to the glory of Jesus. I’m just writing this to remind us that we want to follow the commands that we actually see in Scripture. Here is a church that is under bad government, facing persecution, in a world that is not welcoming to the faith. And here, God saw fit to give that church a calling that would never be embraced on any big platform in any big conference in modern evangelicalism.

Jesus Had His Own Fish

When you think of the kingdom of God, when you think of the Lord’s calling you to be a part of the life and growth of the church, how do you see it? Do you feel obligation? Do you feel needed? Or do you feel wanted? What, by the way, would be the difference in feeling wanted by God and needed by God in the growth of his kingdom?

In John chapter 21, we see an event take place that is lovely, subtle, and helpful. It shows us the invitation from Jesus to the disciples to join him in ministry. And it shows us that we are wanted, not needed.

If you recall, after Jesus’ resurrection, some of the disciples were fishing on the Sea of Galilee. The disciples had no luck that night. In the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, though the disciples were initially unaware that he was there, and miraculously showed them how to catch fish. And then Jesus invited them to breakfast.

John 21:9-12a – 9 When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.”

Note what the disciples found when they came ashore. Jesus had a fire, fish, and bread. Jesus invited the disciples to come and have breakfast with him and even to bring to the fire some of the fish they had caught because of his direction. But make sure you do not miss the fact that Jesus already had fish.

I believe that we can learn something about our participation in Christian ministry from this picture. Jesus has fish. Jesus will grow his kingdom. Jesus will build his church. He can save people and accomplish all he desires to accomplish with or without us.

Draw some parallels. The disciples fished with their greatest skill all night long, and they caught nothing. Jesus empowered them, and they filled their nets to overflowing. You and I can evangelize and discipline our lives with our greatest skill. But if we are left to ourselves, we can do nothing. But, abiding in Christ, resting in Christ, empowered by Christ, we can be a part of Christ building his own church for his glory.

When the disciples arrived on shore, Christ had his own fish already. He did not need their fish. But he let them bring fish to the fire. In our ministry, Christ does not need our contribution. He is kind to include us in the work. He is gracious to allow us to participate. He allows us to bring to him the fruit of labor that he had to empower for it to show any success. And he welcomes us. He receives our offerings. He draws us into fellowship with himself.

I’ll say it again, God does not need us. That is some of the best news you could ever hear. Your goodness does not impress him. Your failure does not disappoint him. He knew you and what you would be long before he ever saved your soul.

Better than needing us, God wants us. God wants you to participate in his worship and in the growth of his kingdom. God wants you to sit under his word and go and make disciples. God wants you to rely on his power and bring your offerings to him. God wants to embrace you and welcome you into fellowship. God wants to give you the joy of glorifying him, the very joy for which you were created. Jesus already has the fish. But he will welcome you to come and join him with all that you bring by his power.

There is Another King, Jesus

Acts 17:6-9 – 6 And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also, 7 and Jason has received them, and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.” 8 And the people and the city authorities were disturbed when they heard these things. 9 And when they had taken money as security from Jason and the rest, they let them go.

Here during Paul’s second missionary journey, we see Paul’s experience in Thessalonica. Many believe. Many are jealous. And those who oppose the word of God use government to persecute the church. The argument is simple. They suggest that to accept Christ as King necessarily makes the earthly government secondary.

Why this is worth taking note for us today is also simple. The church must understand both that Christ is King and that this belief of ours will always and in every way be unacceptable to the lost world. Communist rulers and Marxist philosophers hate the notion of any power beyond that of the party, the rulers in government. Though they may claim that their goal is a totally equal society, their actual practice will always be to have a class of powerful rulers in the government, rulers whose power cannot be made subject to another authority, especially not God.

Even today in the United States, we have people appointed and elected to offices who are making it clear that they demand that the church bow to their authority. In a land where freedom of religion and freedom of assembly is enshrined in the constitution, these folks will use any crisis they can to reshape society so that the government is seen as a higher authority than is the church of the Lord Jesus. Like the Thessalonians, many in America are shocked that we would claim that there is a greater King than Caesar.

What then do we do? We keep on serving Jesus. We keep on preaching. We keep on obeying God’s commands. We keep on gathering. We keep on fellowshipping. We keep on battling to save the lives of unborn babies. We keep on declaring that God created humanity in his image, making us male or female, and that this fact matters. We live boldly while we are free. And we live boldly when it brings us persecution. May we keep, as the Thessalonians said, turning the world upside-down and declaring that Jesus is King.

No Other Way

Have you ever stopped to think about the difficulty of our forgiveness? God is holy. God is good. God is just. God is merciful. God agreed within the trinity to save a people for himself before time began. What are his options when dealing with our sin?

Understand, by the way, that when I speak of God’s “options” for dealing with our sin that I am not at all suggesting that any external force or morality imposes upon God restrictions. I am simply suggesting that God, because of exactly who he is, will only do that which is perfectly in keeping with his holy nature. God is not forced to be just by some external principle of justice that restricts him. Rather, God does justice because God is just. Justice is just because of the nature of God who is perfect justice. Understand the same thing if you apply love, goodness, mercy, kindness, or even wrathfulness to the character of God. These things are true of God because they are who God is, not because they impose themselves upon him or measure him from outside of himself.

Keep some other thoughts in mind. It is good and right for God to have wrath for sin. We all know that good people are rightly angry when evil is perpetrated. You have certainly watched the news, perceived a wrong, and been angry. And you have likely known a person who has been hurt by another person and felt genuinely and rightly furious. But even the best of people is sinful; our anger tainted. We have no idea of the intensity of the white-hot burning fury of totally righteous anger.

It is also good and right for God to have a heart of compassion. God loves to show mercy. God is kind and gracious. We know a little of what that feels like. WE know what it is like to have compassion on the ones we love. But our compassion is tainted by our sin too. We only have a tiny glimpse of the depths of the love and compassion of the Lord for us.

These issues come together in the glorious plan of the Lord. God chose to save a people for himself. At the same time, God would appropriately punish with infinite fury every sin that has ever been committed. For those who persist in hating and rejecting God, the wrath of God in hell will be just and perfect.

But what about the forgiven? We deserve infinite wrath too. How can God forgive us and still be just? He cannot simply overlook our sin and still be a God perfect in justice. If he fails to punish our sin, something is wrong in his love. Something is wrong in his treasuring of all that is good if the wrong against the good can simply be ignored.

Hence the perfect and eternal plan of God. God would take upon himself the just penalty for our sin so that it is properly punished while he simultaneously grants us mercy. Jesus would die in our place, a sacrificial lamb, to carry out the justice of God. Jesus would take to himself the infinite fury of God for the sins of the forgiven even as he, in his infinite worth, covers our sin and satisfies the anger of God for the evil we have done. This is precisely what Paul was pointing us to in Romans 3 when he spoke of the death of Jesus as something done so that God could be just and the Justifier of the one who has faith in Christ (Romans 3:25-26).

Now, here is the question that got my attention to cause me to write this down: Was there any other way? Could God have chosen some other plan? Could God have forgiven us in any way that would not require the death of his Son and the outpouring of wrath on Jesus to perfectly do justice for our sin?

The answer to the question is unequivocally no. God could not have saved our souls in any other way.

How do I know? Consider Jesus in the garden the night of his arrest. Jesus prayed to his Father with a very simple request.

Matthew 26:42 – Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.”

Jesus asked his Father to remove the cup of wrath from him if there was any other way (c.f. Matthew 26:39). Jesus asked if there might be any other way for the cup of wrath to be properly handled without him drinking it. Could God still rescue the chosen without Jesus having to take their sins upon himself and suffer in their place? And the rest of the book shows us that the answer from the Father is that this in fact cannot be done. The only way that our souls can be saved is if Jesus is directly punished by the Father for every last one of our sins.

Analytically this is not super difficult to understand. God, in his perfection, will properly punish every sin. If he does not do so, his love and his perfection and his justice and his holiness are all called into question. God lays upon Jesus the proper punishment for every person he will forgive, and Jesus bears their sins in his body on the cross. For those who will not be forgiven, their sins are properly punished as they spend eternity in hell under the wrath of the Almighty.

Stepping back from the analytical, this is emotionally stunning. God wants to save a people for himself. God rejoices in showing mercy. God rejoices in, as the holy trinity, gifting a people from the Father to the Son. We receive the infinite mercy of God because that fits perfectly who God is. And there was no other way for this plan to be accomplished than through the perfect life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

Friends, the gospel is glorious. Never lose that wonder. God is just. God is merciful. Jesus proves both. And we who know him receive that glorious benefit. Praise be to our Lord!

Our Hope: Resurrection

The world we live in is maddening. Christians have conflict with each other over politics, policies, masks, social media posts, ministry strategies, and so much more. The cancel culture makes our society look like a bad joke made in a poorly written dystopian teen novel. Society embraces evil. Some believers are misled with bad doctrine or no doctrine at all. And our own personal sinfulness is clear.

Where do we find hope? In a recent reading, I was reminded of hope in something that should never be outside of my field of vision. Sadly, sometimes it takes a reminder to put my mind back where it belongs.

Think with me to the upper room discourse. Jesus has just had the last supper with his disciples, and he is teaching them to prepare them for his coming suffering. And, though the disciples are barely ready to receive it, Jesus points not only to his coming death but also to his resurrection.

John 14:18-19 – 18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.”

Jesus knows that his death on the cross will be a terrible discouragement for the disciples. They will feel that they have been orphaned. They will feel alone and afraid. They will feel like the years of ministry that they have done and the hope they put in Jesus has somehow all gone wrong.

In some ways, the disciples will feel like Christians today can be tempted to feel. When your body does not do what it is supposed to do, you feel alone. When your children remind you of your shortcomings as a parent, you feel alone. When you realize that you have never lived up to being the husband or wife you promised your spouse you would be, you feel alone. When you want a spouse or you want children and this seems like it is just not on the way, you feel discouraged. When you see the nation slide toward self-destruction, you feel overwhelmed. When you see Christians show little grace and much nastiness in how they write to and about one another in public, you feel like there is nothing you can do to fix things.

Hear both what Jesus says as well as the huge biblical marker that he gives you for hope. Our Savior says to you, “I will not leave you as orphans…Because I live, you also will live.” Jesus promises us not to leave us as orphans. He will not leave us alone. He will not leave us without him. He will not leave us to ourselves. He will not leave us to the hopelessness of this world.

Where then is our hope? Here is the familiar doctrine that comforts and motivates us if we will remember it. Because Jesus lives, all of those who have come to him for grace will live too. The resurrection is our hope. The life of the Savior after death is our hope. The Savior’s conquest of the grave is our hope.

Jesus died. Jesus died the worst death any person has ever faced. This is not because of the physical horrors of the cross, though those were great. No, Jesus’ death was horrible because as he faced it, he bore the wrath of Almighty God for every sin God will ever forgive. Jesus took upon himself a sentence worth several eternities in hell, one for every sinner he will save. And—get this; don’t miss it—Jesus rose from the grave. Jesus took the ugliest death in eternal history and walked out of the tomb on the third day. Jesus truly conquered death.

And Jesus, who conquered death, Jesus who broke the power of death, Jesus who proved God just and merciful, that same Jesus says to us that, because he lives, we too will live. His resurrection is our hope. Jesus defeated a darkness that none of us could ever imagine. None of us has ever seen or felt the type of death that Jesus died. And Jesus got up. And Jesus tells us that we will live with him.

I cannot over-sell this. Christians, your hope is in the resurrection of the Savior. Without the resurrection, the cross is hopeless and empty. With the resurrection, we know that Jesus has defeated death, perfectly paid the price for every sin he will forgive, and opened the way for all of us to live well beyond this broken life. Jesus reminds us that our hope is not in our government. Our hope is not in the masks we wear or the masks we hope not to wear. Our hope is not in the civility of Christians on-line. Our hope is not in our skill as parents, spouses, money-managers, or coworkers. Our hope is built on the perfect life, sacrificial death, and gloriously powerful resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Christian, let yourself reflect on the hope you have in the resurrection of Jesus. Do not stop at the cross as if that is all there is to our faith. Oh, the cross work of Christ is glorious, do not get me wrong. But the cross only gives us life if the Savior walks out of the tomb victorious. And the Savior says to you, “Because I live, you also will live.”

And if for some crazy reason you are reading this and do not know Jesus, let me tell you that the resurrection of Jesus is your only hope too. If you want to live, you must find yourself in the grace of Jesus. Stop battling against God. Stop living for yourself alone. Stop thinking you are the boss of your life and the one who determines true and false, right and wrong. Surrender to Jesus. Ask him to pay for your sins with his death. Ask him to give you credit for his perfect life. Ask him to give you life in his resurrection. Believe and Jesus and ask him to be your Savior.