The resurrection of Christ is the central teaching of Christianity. The empty tomb is the place where hope is given birth.
And hope is vitally important. Without hope, our hearts go cold. Our happiness soon dries up. Our love of others — and God most of all — evaporates.
Guilt and shame take over. Frustration and fear take hold. Greed and selfishness take control.
Certainly, none of these provide a fertile environment for life-change.
The apostle Paul, standing before Felix (the Roman governor) and his wife Drusilla, is there to defend his faith in Jesus. He is a follower of the Way. This was the early name given to Christians by others. And truly he was a follower of the Way. Jesus had called himself “the way, the truth and the life.”
There with his faith on trial, surrounded by many who were pretty unlikely to ever change their minds about Jesus, it’s interesting to note what Paul says is the natural outcome of his hope in Christ. His hope has resulted in him becoming passionate about keeping his conscience clear. And not just before God. Before men too.
Still today, there is no better motivation for living according to the will of God. We call it “gospel motivation”: the good news of Jesus Christ, and the hope we derive from that good news, is the most pure and powerful energizer for personal life-change that exists.
The empty tomb is the place where hope is given birth. And the empty tomb is the place where powerful change is given birth as well.
“However, I admit that I worship the God of our ancestors as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets, and I have the same hope in God as these men themselves have, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man” (Acts 24:14-16, NIV).
Our Bible reading for Sunday, July 5, is 2 Kings 10:1 – 11:21, Acts 24:1-27 and Psalm 80:8-19.
Lord, thank you for the hope of the resurrection. By your Spirit’s power, help me to use that hope to fuel my own striving to keep my conscience clear before you and before people.
Header image based on "Floyd W. Tomkins Let the resurrection joy lift us..." by BK, CC By-SA 2.0