The world can be an awfully gloomy place. Deadly viruses from distant shores threaten our health. The political landscape is filled with negativity, and headlines lead us to believe that we are truly on the verge of total collapse. It is easy to let the pessimism seep into our minds and cast a long shadow on the Lord’s church. Jesus knows. He has walked those dusty roads, too.
“In the world you have tribulation…(John 16:33).” The hours were dwindling. He would soon shoulder all the sins of all mankind throughout history in a violent collision between God’s love and justice. He had encountered the most intense rejection and hatred that people could dish out and soon He would submit to a brutal execution. But first He would comfort His apostles. Then He would give His life.
Tribulation? Who could possibly know more about tribulation? He left the glory of heaven to step into the human experience. It was His mission to seek and save the lost. The demands were extraordinary. His was the life of a servant. The Lord of the universe came to serve. Imagine that. And it did not stop there. He came to die. To save sinners. Oh yes, He knows. This world is a hard place.
“…take courage; I have overcome the world.” It hardly looked that way as they swept Him away and condemned Him to death. The human perspective is so limited. Our eyes cannot see very far down the road. The apostles would soon distance themselves from Him. Hostility has a way of doing that. Even the stout-hearted withered. Self-confident Peter denied Him. They all ran away. Overcome? It sure looked like the troublesome world was winning the war. Soon, His heart would stop.
Appearances can be deceiving, but dead is…well…unfixable. True, without an almighty God working behind the scenes (or inside the tomb in this case) it would have been hopeless. No person on earth can reverse death, but there is a force that can. He is able. He did. Three days later there was no corpse. The One who said that He had overcome the world had conquered even death. He took its heaviest shot and prevailed. “Take courage; I have overcome the world.”
Christians have been born again to a living hope through the resurrection. Peter (Yes, the very one who had collapsed at a critical moment!) wrote about that, but sometimes our surroundings are so dark that we lose sight of that. So, the Lord had the old fisherman write it down. We don’t just have hope; it is alive and it is ours. The empty tomb verifies it.
Paul prayed for God to open up the spiritual eyes of the Ephesian Christians to know certain facts (Ephesians 1:18-23), and hope was at the top of the list. It is a never-ending, undying hope. Jesus lives, and hope lives with Him.