When we say, ‘I hope so’ we often mean, ‘I’d quite like something to happen, but can’t be sure it will.’ Like our favourite football team winning the FA Cup, or getting that dream job, or whatever. Hope is a fragile thing in an uncertain world where we never really know what’s around the corner. But a fragile hope that things are going to turn out well is better than no hope at all, I suppose.
Easter is all about hope destroyed and reborn. Jesus’ followers were full of hope that he was the long-expected Messiah who was going to put the world to rights. The Saviour of the world, even. But it didn’t seem to work out quite like that. Jesus was rejected by the religious authorities, put through a mockery of a trial and condemned to be crucified on the first Good Friday. Some Saviour. Couldn’t even save himself from the suffering and indignity of public execution. Jesus’ followers dutifully buried their Master and thought that was that. All their grand hopes of a new and better world were gone.
They were wrong, however. On the fist Easter Sunday morning Jesus’ followers were amazed to discover that his tomb was empty and the body was nowhere to be seen. Later that day he appeared to them. Jesus had risen from the dead. At first they couldn’t quite believe their eyes, but it was him alright. The same Jesus who had been crucified was alive. The hearts of his followers burned with hope once more.
Jesus explained that it was by his death on the cross and resurrection from the dead that he had broken the power of sin and death. Now those who believe in him may be forgiven and restored to a right relationship with God. The power of God that raised Jesus from the dead will also raise his people to everlasting life and glory.
That’s the Christian hope. It is rooted not in an optimistic feeling that things are going to work out for the best, but in what God did in Christ on that first Easter Weekend. The believer has a sure and certain hope in the living Lord Jesus.
*For Easter editions of News & Views and Holy Trinity Magazine