The resurrection of the Lord Jesus stands at the center of our hope as Christians. Because Christ is risen, we know that His death on the cross accomplished its saving purpose as the once-for-all sacrifice for sin. Moreover, because Christ is risen, we who are in Him have the hope of a glorious resurrection.
Some time ago, I stumbled across a fascinating Newsweek article from 1968 entitled Soul on Ice.
The article reports the premature death of 24-year-old Stephen J. Mendel due to chronic illness. Before his death however, Stephen sought to safeguard his future by having his body frozen in the hopes he could one day be thawed and revived if a cure for his illness were ever found. In compliance with his wishes, upon his death his body was taken, infused with anti-freeze, packed with dry-ice, and placed indefinitely in a capsule. “A remote chance” of success was all Mendel’s mother was willing to grant this science-fiction-like endeavor. Nonetheless, she continued, “It was easier for me to bear because there wasn’t the same finality of putting someone away under the earth.”
This is a fascinating, albeit tragic, story. It highlights the profound pessimism of those who do not know the Lord.
As Christians, we are also hoping for a future resurrection, but unlike Mendel, our hope is based not on a future defrost, but on the very promise of God.
For you as a believer, your resurrection is not the fantasy of science fiction, but the inevitable reality of biblical fact. It requires no ice, no anti-freeze, no liquid nitrogen; you can be buried, drowned, or cremated. Only one thing is important – that you possess a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. As a member of His family, you can anticipate with confidence the resurrection unto life (John 5:29).
Paul, in 2 Corinthians 5, reminds us that this future reality is to be eagerly anticipated, or – in his words – groaned for. In fact, in 1 Corinthians 15, Paul describes the staggering reality of experiencing eternal life in a resurrection body. The hope of a resurrection unto eternal life is the difference between Christian and non-Christian funerals. It explains why we do not mourn like the rest of the world, which has no hope (see 1 Thess 4:13).
Such optimism, even in the face of death, is predicated upon the reality that Christ has risen from the grave. His resurrection guarantees the same for those who belong to Him. Consequently, for believers, there are no “good-bye’s,” just “see you later’s.”
The hope of heaven is predicated on the reality of Christ’s resurrection. It provides the basis on which believers can face death with unflinching confidence.
Charles Spurgeon, speaking of those in his own congregation who had died, said,
The very happiest persons I have ever met with have been departing believers, the only people for whom I have felt any envy have been dying members of this very church, whose hands I have grasped in their passing away, almost without exception, I have seen in them holy delight and triumph and in the expectations to this, and in the exceptions to this exceeding joy, I’ve seen deep peace exhibited in a calm and deliberate readiness to enter into the presence of their God.
Because the Lord Jesus conquered sin and death through His crucifixion and resurrection, believers can now face death without fear or trepidation. They know they are going home, into the presence of their Savior and Lord.
After all, it is the presence of Christ that makes heaven so wonderful. Heaven will never grow boring, because Heaven is Christ, and Christ is infinitely glorious. We will worship Him forever, and our love for Him will only deepen as the centuries and millennia pass by.
When we consider the incredible hope that we enjoy, that we anticipate with eagerness as Christians – there is reason for everlasting rejoicing. This hope centers on the resurrection of our Savior. And that is why we have so much to celebrate this weekend.