As I stood among the rubble caused by the earthquake that rocked our city, filled with people who don’t know Christ, a flood of thoughts and emotions swept over me. In the roar of those feelings, one idea drowned out the others: “If this life is all there is, we should give up now.”
I’ve had similar thoughts while drinking tea with atheist college students in East Asia. The same idea has come to mind in conversations with rich, attractive, and miserable friends in my home country. Whether you’re rich or poor, living in extreme abundance or extreme need, our short stint on this broken earth will leave us unsatisfied and ever longing for more. The cry of Ecclesiastes, “vanity, vanity”, rings so true (Ecclesiastes 1:2). And that’s why the resurrection matters.
God has eternally existed in joy and love as Trinity. In his presence is fullness of joy. At his right hand are pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11). Knowing him is eternal life, the door through which those he loves enter into the joy of their Lord (John 17:3; Matthew 25:14–30). Since the fall of humanity into sin, life on earth is filled with toil, sorrow, and hardship. Our lives are like a mist in the morning. We are here for a little while and then we vanish (Psalm 90:10; James 4:14). If our hope is only for this short life, it’s not worth much.
The New Testament records thirteen post-resurrection appearances of Jesus.1 In at least four of these, Jesus mentions the gospel going to the nations (Luke 24:36–49; Matthew 28:16-20; Acts 1:1–11, 9:1–18). Since the birth of the church in the New Testament, the hope of the resurrection has fueled and sustained the spread of the gospel to the nations.
The New Testament records thirteen post-resurrection appearances of Jesus; in at least four of these, Jesus mentions the gospel going to the nations.
How does resurrection hope fuel gospel advance? By giving us an eternal perspective. The needs of the world can quickly overwhelm us. The Lord will send his church to countries ravaged by war, camps filled with refugees, villages living in abject poverty, and trauma-laden communities right next door. As they go, members of his church will meet the physical needs around them, just like their Lord. And this is but the beginning.
Jesus came to give his people abundant life (John 10:10), but he didn’t stop there. Jesus came to bring us back to God. The hope of the resurrection ensures that missionaries carry a message that leads to life forevermore. The resurrection ensures that the message that missionaries bring to the lost offers them a path to eternal joy, not just relief from temporal suffering.
The Resurrection is Worth Dying for
For early missionaries in the book of Acts, the resurrection and hope of eternal life stood at the center of their message. Without the resurrection, their preaching was void of both power and meaning (1 Corinthians 15:14).
The apostles were willing to be tried, beaten, and falsely accused for their teaching because the resurrection vindicated Christ as the perfect sacrifice and victor over Satan, sin, death.
Three times in the book of Acts, Paul says that he is on trial for the hope of the resurrection (Acts 23:6, 24:21, 26:6–7). He knew that even if his physical body perished, he would be raised in power, kept for immortality
(1 Corinthians 15:42–54).
Because of the Resurrection, We Risk
In one of his more puzzling statements, Jesus promised his followers that some of them would be killed, but not a hair on their heads would perish (Luke 21:16–19). Even if messengers of the gospel lose their lives, their joy will be preserved for eternity. Nothing, not even the most intense forms of suffering, can separate them from the love of God that is theirs in Christ (Romans 8:28–39).
The sent-out church of the risen Christ can take difficult risks. Christians can go to the most broken places and desperate people. We can love our enemies and bless those who curse us. We can live for more than the temporal pleasures of food, entertainment, and comfort. No matter what we lose for the sake of Christ, we will gain more in eternity (Luke 18:28–30).
The Resurrection Gives Missionaries Endurance
Just like our Savior, missionaries risk it all for the joy set before us. We endure all things for the sake of the gospel so that we may share in its blessings. We can endure ridicule because we gain a name that cannot be taken away. We can endure pain because we will live forever in a place where tears are no more. We endure shame because we will share in his glory. We endure the pains of life because our hearts are being renewed day by day (Romans 5:3–5).
We can endure ridicule because we gain a name that cannot be taken away.
So, this Easter, let’s rejoice that this life is not all there is. Let’s boldly, joyfully, and powerfully speak the message of the gospel of our risen King. Let’s step into the rubbles of the world and the devastation in the lives around us with the only message of hope that will endure. And let’s do so knowing that our labor in the Lord is not in vain. Our risen Savior’s eternal victory ensures that the nations will worship the Lamb who was slain forever.
- Matthew 28:8–10, 16–20; Luke 24:13–32, 34, 36–49; John 20:11–18, 19–29, 21:1–23; Acts 1:1–11, 9:1–9; 1 Corinthians 15:6–7. (Back to Top)