Why You Need the Hope of Easter
Why You Need the Hope of Easter
A few years ago, some scientists at UC Berkeley conducted a series of experiments. In the first experiment, they put some rats in a tub of water, and forced the rats to swim until they were exhausted and finally slipped under the water. They found that the rats could swim an average of seven hours before they drowned. Then they did a second experiment. It was exactly like the first, except for one minor change: when a rat was getting too exhausted to swim any more, and he was starting to go under the water, they would pick it up for just a second, then put it back in the water. They found that these rats could swim an average of twenty hours!
What was the difference between the two experiments? Hope. Just a little glimpse of hope was all it took for these rats to swim three times as long as they could without it.
We’re not too different. As humans, our life-breath is hope. You can stick us on a lifeboat without food or water in the middle of the Pacific for 47 days, and as long as we think there’s light at the end of the tunnel, we’ll make it.
The problem is that we don’t always know what that light at the end of the tunnel is. Lots of times, the best we can do is grasp at some vague, misty hope that somehow things will turn out OK.
But there’s something a lot more solid to hope in:
According to his great mercy, God has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you. (1 Peter 1:3-4).
That’s the hope we celebrate every Easter. And this hope of a brand new life (being “born again”) is rock solid. It isn’t the same as our hope that UH football will win the Mountain West championship next year (maybe, maybe not). This hope is certain, because it rests on a historical event. Peter’s argument is that if God raised Jesus from the dead, he’ll give us new life too.
The resurrection of Christ is something that happened within the lifetime of the people Peter was writing to. Some of them were in Jerusalem when it happened. They could talk to people who saw Jesus after he rose from the grave — 500 of them!
￼Historians say that when you have multiple, independent witnesses, it makes it more likely that the event actually happened. They also say when you have unlikely witnesses like the women who first saw Jesus — their testimony wouldn’t have even been valid in a Roman court — that means it’s more likely the event actually happened. And then when you have enemy witnesses like Paul, who went around killing Christians until he saw Jesus risen from the dead, then the event probably happened.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the most historically verifiable events of the ancient world. Which is what makes our hope so secure: the fact that Jesus did rise from the dead. And that’s why Peter says our hope is imperishable. Unfading. They couldn’t keep Jesus in the grave, so nobody can kill our hope.
Think about all the things that usually give us hope, and think about how perishable they are. I used to have a ’65 Volkswagen Beetle. I loved that thing. I was in the process of restoring it, and I had hope that I could get it into cherry condition. But one day, as I was driving down the street, I started to smell smoke. I looked in the rear-view mirror, and there was a wall of flame coming up from the engine compartment in the back. I pulled over, jumped out, and watched it burn to the ground. It was gone in about 2 minutes.
I learned quickly that whatever I find my hope in right now, eventually it will be taken away from me. Like my physical fitness. Once you hit a certain age, all your conversations with your friends start revolving around how your body doesn’t work like it used to. You start talking about knee surgeries, because your knees don’t work anymore. You start talking about diets, because your metabolism doesn’t work anymore. At some point you wake up and ask yourself, “When did we start talking about this? … I don’t remember talking about this 10 years ago!”
The older you get, the more you realize that nothing lasts in this world. But the hope we have in Christ is that he offers a new life that starts now and lasts forever. Imperishable, undefiled, and unfading.
Invite a friend to come celebrate that hope with us this Sunday!