Resurrection day. The first reports began to come to the disciples. They were fearful and unbelieving. The gospels tell that they were behind locked doors because of fear (John 20:19). The disciples refused to believe the report brought to them by the women. They thought they were idle tales (Luke 24:11). It did not matter that Jesus had told them numerous times that He would be betrayed, crucified, and would then rise again. Jesus was not with them now. They were without hope.
What a change would take place over the next days, weeks, and months, as these trembling, fearful followers of Christ would become bold spokesman, giving testimony to the risen Savior. The transformation was startling. These disciples were propelled into a glorious mission, often forsaking comfort, provisions, status, and even life itself, for the sake of proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. What was the difference?
Apart from Jesus Christ, there is no real hope (Ephesians 2:12). The disciples were fearful because Jesus was no longer with them. He had been beside them, day after day. Now, He was gone. He had been the source of their joy, hope, and confidence. That hope died on the cross. It died because they did not see the plan and salvation God had for them and for the world. They did not see Jesus for Who He really was and what it was He came to accomplish. If they had, the disciples would have been waiting with joy and anticipation, not fear and trembling.
Like many people today and throughout the centuries, the work of God in Christ is often missed. It is frequently ignored. Or the focus is on religious activities or rituals. They may see Jesus as a wise teacher, bringing good principles to live by. If they try to treat people kindly and live a good life, they may be convinced they are doing their duty. They may attend church once in a while. They may attend every week. Again, they miss the true work of God in Christ on the cross.
We are dead in sin apart from Christ. Apart from Christ, we are subject to wrath of God and without hope in this world or the eternity to come. God’s wrath was poured out on Christ on the cross. Jesus received the penalty for the sin of the entire human race. God’s view of sin was displayed by releasing His judgment on His own Son. There is no amount of good works we could ever do that could compare or replace the payment that was made by Jesus. And if we do not receive God’s gift, we are left to stand before God on our own merit, dead in sin. We are without hope.
When we are saved, we are born again into a living hope (1 Peter 1:3). When we repent and turn to God for forgiveness, He gives us new life in Christ. Our old life is gone and we are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). Our old life is crucified and Christ now lives within in us (Galatians 2:20. We now have a hope that is not based on our own goodness or our ability to earn God’s favor by our good works, which is an impossible task anyway. The standard is perfection. We must be holy, as God is holy. This is something that we cannot obtain.
Jesus Christ was the perfect sacrifice, fulfilling the requirement for the penalty of sin. God paid the price Himself. Jesus came, as God in human flesh, to dwell with us and pay the price for our forgiveness. Remarkable. God gives to us life when we deserve death. He gives us forgiveness when we deserve wrath. He gives us hope when we deserve despair. How great the Father’s love for us. It is beyond our comprehension.
Christ in us, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). As I said at the beginning, the disciples went from fearful to bold, and from hopeless to being filled with hope. The reason for this was because they now had the living Christ within them. When Jesus died, they were separated. When He arose and ascended to heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit. They now had the living Christ dwelling within them. They would never be apart again.
When we receive the gift of God’s salvation in Christ, He now lives within us. This new life we receive is the life of Christ within us. All of the promises of God are ours in Christ. He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us. He is with us, forever. We have the promise of His presence with us during the remainder of our lives and that when we breathe our last breath, we will be transported into His glorious presence.
This is the hope of glory. Christ within us. We stand before God in the righteousness of Christ. We have the promise of blessings beyond measure, stored up for those who come to God in Christ. This world has nothing to offer that can compare to this. All pleasures, prosperity, and power fall far short of the wonder and glory God has stored up for us. But more than that, we have the very presence of God within us through Christ. Our highest joy is found in Him. We are not without hope. Hope has come to dwell within us forever.
Together for His glory…