Facing a difficult Monday after Easter Sunday is a great test of whether you actually understand the Easter message. When you are struggling to pay the bills, the kids are still sick, the dryer breaks, and suffering and loss seem more real than Jesus does, how do you respond? You may wonder, “Where did the joy of Easter go? Is the resurrection really all that relevant to my life? How does the message of Easter really change the way I face a job that I hate, a family member who constantly raises objections to my faith and a habit that I cannot seem to break?” Thankfully the Bible is not silent when it comes to the daily relevance of Jesus’ resurrection. In fact, at least three things should come immediately to mind – assurance, power and hope.
The resurrection provides assurance that everything Jesus said and did was right and true. Every other religious teacher throughout history has made large claims and given opinions of how to view the world, but no religious teacher except Jesus has made the claim that he is God, is going to die for your sins, physically rise again and then do it. Jesus is the only one who has risen from the dead, never to die again. This should motivate every Christian to stand for and share Jesus without fear! But, if you are not positive that something is true you will not share it with the world.
The resurrection assures us that Christianity is true. Furthermore, Jesus’ resurrection acts as your receipt. A receipt is proof of payment. In certain stores, there are employees at the exits checking for people’s receipts on their way out. What do they want to know? They want to be sure that all the items are paid for. There is nothing more frustrating than getting to that door and fumbling around for the receipt you cannot find.
Keeping your receipt close at hand gives you assurance as you approach the exit.
Likewise, the resurrection of Jesus is your receipt that must be close at hand. The receipt lists all your sins that have been paid for (past, present, and future), and tells others that you are free to live with complete forgiveness. The resurrection is the receipt that Jesus’ check cleared. His payment on the cross for all our sins was approved. So when the voices of accusation and condemnation ask, “What right do you have to walk out in freedom?” Just wave your receipt. Jesus’ resurrection provides assurance that you can trust who he claims to be and that what he accomplished on the cross is enough.
Can you think of any greater power than the power over death? Jesus displayed this power at the resurrection, but is this great resurrection power still available for you today? The Bible’s answer is an emphatic, “Yes!” The Apostle Paul teaches that the same Spirit of power that raised Christ from the dead is now at work within every Christian (see Romans 8:11). This is why in another letter, Paul says that he wants to “know Christ and the power of his resurrection” (Philippians 3:10). This means that he wants to experience more of the Spirit’s power in overcoming sin, because the Spirit of power that raised Christ to physical newness of life is the same Spirit that is now raising every Christian to spiritual newness of life. The resurrection of Jesus reminds you that there is not just pardon for your sins; there is power to overcome them. The power of Christ’s resurrection enables you to die more to lust and rise to love, to die more to bitterness and rise to forgiveness. Because of Jesus’ resurrection, addictions can be overcome, fear can turn into faith, pride can give way to humility, and selfishness can be transformed into radical generosity. God’s power lets us utilize by faith all the resources that God has given (such as prayer, fellowship and the Bible).
The word hope often conveys uncertainty, such as “I sure hope they show up on time.” But the nature of biblical hope is not wishful thinking; it is the life-shaping certainty in a positive future. In the very beginning of first Peter, suffering Christians are reminded that Jesus’ resurrection gives them a living hope. No matter what is happening, a Christian’s hope is never dead, because Christ is the Christian’s hope, and he is alive. But how does this practically work itself out? Paul speaks of Christ’s resurrection as the “first-fruits.” First-fruits are the first of the harvest; they are a sign of what is certain to come. The physical resurrection of Jesus is the sign of what is coming to every Christian and to this world – complete redemption.
Another biblical way to view suffering with hope is through the lens of childbirth. The painful contractions of a laboring woman are not signs of death, but of life. Though this does not minimize the pain, it infuses the pain with life-giving hope. What this means is that all the natural disasters and problems of life can be viewed like contractions that promise Jesus’ coming.
Moments of suffering for the Christian are not death pangs, but birth pangs. The resurrection of Jesus is life-shaping certainty that your future is going to be filled with life. So when you confront objections and doubts about the Christian faith, temptations to sin or situations that seem impossible to overcome, you can say, “For this I have the resurrected Christ.” It turns out that the resurrection of Jesus is extremely relevant Monday through Sunday. Easter not just a holiday you celebrate once a year; it is applied every day of the year.