It’s been over a week now since Easter, but I still find myself thinking about the resurrection of Jesus and its significance. At the end of March my friend, Tyler Hiebert, organized a debate in which he and an atheist addressed the question, “Did Jesus rise from the dead?” It was fascinating to watch and listen to each of their arguments. But more than anything, I realized how much the Christian faith hinges on the question of whether or not Jesus did or did not rise from the dead.
In the following days as I pondered the resurrection and what it means, one verse in particular kept coming to mind:
“…looking unto Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Jesus knew that He was going to rise from the dead. He told His disciples as much several times during their three years of ministry together. This may not be all that the “joy that was set before him” encompasses, but knowing that you would rise from the dead to eternal life would sure bring an incredible amount of joy! Enough to make it possible, I think to endure whatever suffering and humiliation was inflicted upon you during your present temporary life.
This, in turn, gives a whole new perspective to everyone who has Jesus Christ dwelling in them. We have been promised eternal life in Him, and when He comes again, our earthly body will be exchanged for a heavenly one that will live eternally:
“Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.'”
~1 Corinthians 15:51-54
It is this knowledge of a future resurrection to eternal life that serves as the same “joy that is set before us” to enable us to endure any suffering, any shame in our temporary bodies on this earth. What a difference it makes in the trials of every day – however big or small they may be – to remind myself of this simple, but profound truth!
Truly, the resurrection of Jesus Christ means everything. It affirms the power of God over death and guarantees us an eternal joy for which we can endure any pain, suffering, and rejection in this life. In light of this rich reality, let’s embrace Paul’s subsequent exhortation:
“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”
~1 Corinthians 15:58