Where Hope Comes To Life

Bible Book: Matthew  28 : 5-7
Subject: Easter; Resurrection

A dramatic incident occurred during the meeting of the Congress of Vienna in February 1815. Representatives of Austria, Prussia, Russia, and Britain were meeting to redraft the map of Europe after the defeat of Napoleon. On the day when a great degree of agreement had been reached and the boundary lines had finally been drawn, an uniformed messenger came to the door of the council chamber and asked for admission. He went to the presiding officer and handed him a dispatch, at the same time saying in an excited voice, “He is back again!”

“Who is back?” asked the chairman.

“Napoleon,” said the messenger.

Immediately the Congress was thrown into turmoil. Fear was on every face. They thought Napoleon was safely guarded on Elba where he could no longer disturb the peace of Europe. Now he was back again, marching triumphantly along the highways of France, being joined by old comrades and new followers. All the careful revision of the map of Europe which the Congress had just made could be discarded. Napoleon was back again. The man they thought was defeated was back again!

Almost 2,000 years ago, Satan saw Jesus come back to life after he thought he was defeated. No doubt he had been drawing up great plans for his kingdom. All that had to be changed with the resurrection of Christ.

You see, the resurrection signaled Satan’s greatest defeat. It guaranteed his ultimate downfall. Maybe that is why he works so feverishly for your soul today, for his days are numbered.

If the resurrection signals the defeat of the evil one, what does it mean for you and me?

There are events which mystify, bewilder, and confuse. In the face of these events, it is not uncommon to hear one ask, “What does it mean?” This was true concerning the resurrection of Christ. Mary Magdalene (John 20:1-2) had difficulty understanding, as did the disciples (Luke 24:11). What does it mean? Read with me Matthew 28:5-7.

I. Easter Without Christ Is World Without Hope

Easter Without Christ Means Our World Is Doomed, Devoid Of Meaning, Empty Of Hope!

If there had been no resurrection, then there would be no reason for life now. On the first day of the week, early in the morning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb in which Jesus was buried. Their hearts were breaking as they made their way to the tomb in the shadowy darkness of early morning. It was a darkness in which death ruled supreme. Dead was the person who claimed superiority over death.

Dead were His claims, and dead was the enthusiasm of His followers. It was the saddest, darkest hour history has ever known. Great was the rejoicing in the halls of hell.

Death’s shadowy darkness was made darker by the question, “When He died, did His teachings die with Him?” He taught new and different things. He spoke of love, but where was love now that He was in the grave? He said that He was the only way to salvation, but now He was dead. Where now was the way of salvation? He called Himself the Light of the world, but where was His light now? He taught that if a person died who believed in Him he would rise to live again and if someone lived and believed in Him they would never die. Now what? The brilliant light of His revelation was now quenched in the cold dark waters of death. He was dead and so were His claims and His teachings, or so it seemed.

Easter is a time which ought to shock us into the realization that life without Christ is the saddest, darkest, most horrible existence imaginable. It is hopelessness.

Years ago a submarine sank off Provincetown. As soon as possible, divers descended. They walked about the disabled ship trying to find signs of life within. At last they heard a gentle tapping. Listening intently, they recognized the dots and dashes as Morse code. These were the words spelled out, “Is there hope?” This question is asked over and over again by a heartbroken humanity.

II. Easter With Christ Means Hope Has Arrived

The resurrection is real. In verse 6 God’s messenger states it clearly. Some claim that His body was stolen. The Scripture says He rose from death to life.

Let us get the story in perspective. Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph, had been executed for crimes of treason. They thought the matter was over. Even the disciples thought that their dream of deliverance had ended. All hope had died. They hadn’t understood what was happening. The religious leaders had won. They had killed him.

The story wasn’t over, however. Although they didn’t understand and many do not today, Jesus died for them. The weight of the world was on His shoulders and He died. He was whipped, stomped, spit on, and literally nailed to a piece of wood. When He died, they forgot that they were dealing with the Son of God. He rose from that grave. He conquered death itself.

The first to know the joy of that victory were some women who were with Jesus when He was killed. They were with Him when He was laid in the tomb. As they came to mourn the death of their friend, they witnessed the fact of the resurrection. The whole matter was so staggering that it might seem beyond belief. It was too good to be true.

Some still feel the promises of Christ are too good to be true. Some feel that the life which He promised can only be had by preachers or deacons or “holy people.”

We can and must take Him at His word. Do you believe that Jesus rose from the dead? Do you believe that He wants you to share in the life that He can give you? The Bible says that you are dead in your sins, but that in Christ, only in Christ, because He rose from the dead, you too can be made alive. First Corinthians 15:22 says, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” There is hope.

The crucifixion of Jesus Christ was not a case of another religious reformer going down in defeat. Jesus Christ was declared to be God’s Son through the power of the resurrection (Romans 1:4). According to Romans 1:4, Jesus was “…declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.”

III. Easter Means The Word of Christ Is Reliable

In verse 6, the angel in the tomb confirmed Christ’s word and reliability. The angel reminded them that Jesus had promised them that He would indeed rise on the third day. Matthew 16:21 says, “From that time forth began Jesus to show unto His disciples, how that He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.” He reminded them of this promise which they had not understood. He said in verse 6, “Come, see the place where the Lord lay.”

The Lord can be believed for He is reliable. What He says He will do, He will do. Hebrews 10:23 says, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.”

He is faithful. When we come to Him in confession and repentance, He forgives. First John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” If we open our hearts to Him, He will come in.

Revelation 3:20 says, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.”

He is faithful. Let Jesus show you His reliability. A while back on the cover of the Biblical Recorder, there was a picture of Annie Shaw, age 100 years. She had just been saved and baptized. Whoever you are, let Christ do for you what He has said He will do.

May God be able to say to us as He said to His Son, “This is my Son in whom I am well pleased.”

IV. Easter Means The Promise of Christ’s Continued Ministry Of Presence Is True

The angel (verse 7) told the women to announce, “You shall see Him.” The Lord would appear to His disciples.

Jesus had promised to go ahead of His disciples into Galilee and the angel now reminds them of this (verse 7). The present tense (“is going ahead”) cannot mean that Jesus is already on His way, because verse 10 places Him still in Jerusalem. The verb is not a progressive present but a vivid future. As He promised, Jesus will arrive in Galilee before they do and meet them there, contrary to their expectation.

John’s gospel tells of His continued ministry of presence. Acts tells us of His continued ministry through the Holy Spirit. For us, the resurrection gives us the certain hope of His constant friendship and the knowledge of His coming back. It gives us the certain hope that we too will rise again.


John G. Paton, a nineteenth-century missionary to the South Seas, met opposition to leaving his home in Scotland and going to preach to the cannibalistic peoples of the New Hebrides Islands. A well-meaning church member moaned to him, “The cannibals, the cannibals! You will be eaten by the cannibals!”

Without hesitation, Paton replied, “I confess to you that if I can live and die serving my Lord Jesus Christ, it makes no difference to me whether I am eaten by cannibals or by worms; for in that Great Day of Resurrection, my body will rise as fair as yours in the likeness of our risen Redeemer!”

What does Easter mean? What does it mean to you? It means hope.