At a time when it may be difficult for many of us to find things to be positive or hopeful about, let us reflect on the events of the first Easter almost 2000 years ago.
In chapter 1 of the letter Paul wrote to the Christians in and around the city of Ephesus, he expressed his hope that they would understand and reflect on the “incomparably great power” that God has at his disposal.
To help them do that, he brought to mind the single greatest thing that God has ever used his power to accomplish.
It wasn’t the deliverance of his people from slavery in Egypt by supernatural devastation or the parting of the Red Sea.
It wasn’t the feeding of the five thousand or any of Jesus’ other miracles.
It wasn’t even the creation of the universe and all of the billions of galaxies, each perhaps containing billions of stars and planets, including our own.
It was the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
Here is how Paul put it:
That power is the same as the mighty strength [God] exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. (Ephesians 1:19–23)
As far as God’s future plan for the universe is concerned, Jesus is everything. Everything that exists has been placed at his command.
When Jesus returns from heaven he will transform this world from a place of suffering and death into a state of everlasting life and peace.
He will transform those who trust in him from fragile mortals who fail him as often as we serve him into immortal beings like himself who will never again feel pain or want to do anything against God’s will.
That is God’s vision for the future: a world of life, peace and happiness that will never end, populated by people who will only ever experience those things and will never die.
In fact that was God’s vision for the future from the very beginning, before he created a single thing, long before any humans existed.
None of what God has planned could ever have happened without that one event of greater importance than any other there has ever been: the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
Without the resurrection of Jesus, being a Christian is a waste of time. Paul puts it this way:
And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:17–22).
And in verse 32 of the same chapter:
If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”
If Jesus had never been raised from the dead, then none of the plans God has for the future could ever have happened.
If Jesus had never died as a sacrifice in the first place, then God and Jesus would be forever alone in that remade world of perfection. None of us would be there with them.
At this time of fear and uncertainty, when the fragility of our lives and our society has been made so much clearer to us, here is the Easter hope.
It’s a promise that can keep us going no matter what may happen. It’s a promise that God has already guaranteed by doing for Jesus exactly what he will do for those who trust in him: resurrection from the dead.