Just under 3 weeks ago, a tragedy occurred in our NAMS church community here in Bangkok. Kazia, a young 21 year old Pakistani girl (who with her parents were asylum seekers in Bangkok) died suddenly from complications from a blood infection. She had been close friends with Sara, one of our church members, also Pakistani. On Christmas Day in 2017, Kazia and Sara had been guests for the day with my family and 2 other NAMS Companion missionaries at our home. We enjoyed a wonderful day of holy celebration, feasting and fun together. We saw her occasionally after that, and I visited her at the hospital the night she died. We are still grieving the sudden lost of such a young life.
But in the midst of our profound sadness, the hope of the resurrection is the greatest comfort we can have. On the morning after Kazia’s death, as I was on my way to Myanmar, I was reading from 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18, which speaks of the return of Christ when all the dead and living in Christ shall rise to meet him. Paul writes, ‘…and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.’ In our sadness, we take comfort that her death (and ours) is not a full stop, but simply a parenthesis. We shall meet again at the return of our King.
Jesus’ resurrection changes everything. It is the oxygen of hope in the smog and fog of our confusion and grief.
For not only was His resurrection historical, it is also transformational for all who believe in His name and saving work.
Jesus’ victory through his death and resurrection remains the only true panacea for the ills of all humanity. It forgives our past sins, transforms our present sinfulness and will one day resurrect us in glorious perfection. Past, present and future simultaneously effected!
As has been said, this Gospel or good news is not merely the ‘ABC’ of our faith but the ‘A to Z’ of it.
And the resurrection is a central part of that good news. Apostolic preaching centered on it – every recorded evangelistic sermon in the book of Acts mentions the resurrection of Jesus.
Jesus himself predicted his resurrection would be a sign to unbelievers (Matthew 12:38-40). It witnesses to the unique saving work of Jesus to those who are receptive (Acts 10:40-43). It is at the heart of our confession of faith until salvation (Romans 10:9) and fuels our on-going life of faith and hope (Romans 8:9-11, Philippians 3:10-11).
We are freed from the fear of death because of Jesus’ rising (Hebrews 2:14-15). And the same power with which God raised Jesus, works in us today and will likewise raise us up to the same resurrected life (1 Corinthians 6:14 and Ephesians 1:19-20)
In the halcyon days of our childhood, many a story ended in those blissful terms: ‘and they lived happily ever after.’ Growing up in the school of life, such a myth is easily dispelled. We live in a sad, mad and bad world.
History is a litany of ills and wrongs repeated over and over again. ‘All news is old news happening to new people.’ (Malcolm Muggedridge). And the news is almost always bad.
Against such hopelessness and helplessness, the Gospel and the resurrection of Jesus mitigate. They sing us a new song of hope and usher all who would turn in repentant faith to Jesus into a new dawn of hope. In God’s new kingdom, we will indeed live the happy-ever after He always intended. He has left us the witness of an empty tomb to guarantee it.
Against the tragedy and loss of death that tends to shake us, especially when the loss is personal or tragic, His resurrection offers hope not only for that inevitable last day of our mortality to come, but it calls us to sing a different song today – one that lifts Him up for all to see.
We are a resurrection people, called to go and share with a world that knows no such hope. Who will you share this hope with today?