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Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24
1 Corinthians 15:19-25
I have noticed in recent events of my life that I am often being tested to question whether the faith I have in Jesus Christ is worthwhile. Is it worth the trials and suffering, and the bitterness of life? There are days when I wonder, “where are you, Lord?” “How much more will you let me bare in this world?” Have you ever felt that way? I wonder if the disciples felt this way after Jesus died. We are told that they were all hiding together and hunkering down in fear. They believed that it was all over. One must wonder if they questioned whether all of the experiences that they had with Jesus was worthwhile. Was it worthwhile to follow him all this time? Was it worthwhile to be trembling in fear for what may happen to them if their location is found? Was it worthwhile to leave their homes and families to follow Jesus only for him to be killed a short time later? Was it worthwhile to be part of upsetting the status quo?
On the morning of the third day, the women went to the tomb to take spices and incense for Jesus’ body. They had no reason to believe in their minds that his body would not be there. However, when they arrived, they could see that his body was gone and they were told by two angels that he had risen. They ran back to the room where the rest were hiding and reported to them what they had seen. However, Luke tells us that they did not believe what these women were saying because it sounded like their words were nonsense. It was not worthwhile in their minds to listen to what these women were saying. However, for Peter and John, they had to at least go check for themselves. As for the others they stayed behind to remain in their sorrow and fear.
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:19 “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” If we only hope that he was raised from the dead but we are not certain of it then we are to be pitied. Because if Jesus had not been risen then our faith is futile. There would be no reason for our faith. There would be no reason for people to have had faith for the last 2000 years. However, Paul speaks with certainty that Christ is indeed risen from the dead. He should know for He appeared to him and he was blinded for a time afterwards. Death came through a man called Adam and now life comes through a man named Jesus.
What if Jesus only came to die for the Jews? Would our faith be worthwhile? However, the Holy Spirit reveals to Peter that it is not just the Jews who were to be saved but the whole world. “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accept from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.” He is alive and all are forgiven who believe in his name and believe in his resurrection.
This year’s Seder dinner had a whole new meaning for me as we partook in the ceremony together. The Hillel sandwich is one of the most interesting and eventful portions I think for everyone in the Seder ceremony. It is where we mix bitter horseradish, Maror, with the sweet Charoset. It is supposed to remind us that with God there is often bitter and sweetness together in life. Though we may have lots of bitterness in our world and in the events of our life our faith is still worthwhile for the bitterness is broken by the sweetness of the Lord’s promises which he keeps. I have felt bitterness after bitterness these last several months in the attacks against me and my family. I have listened to testimonies on the radio driving home from work of people who have been blessed and healed by God from their infirmities. While I am happy for these people, I must admit that I also have felt bitterness in the fact that this same healing was not seen within my own family. So, the question is whether it is worthwhile to believe even though you do not receive what you most desire and hope for? The truth is that even though I do not witness and receive what I seek, Jesus is still risen and because he is risen those who die in this world will live in paradise with the Lord because of their faith and trust in Him. Therefore, even though I do not receive what I desire and even though I may still feel hardship and pain in my life, it is still worthwhile to believe in Jesus Christ. For everything in this life is temporary but he is showing us something that is eternal.
The disciples had truly fallen away after Jesus was crucified. They no longer believed and when they were told that the tomb was empty, they thought that the news was utter nonsense. This is why Jesus had to appear before them so that they would see and believe. As he told Thomas, blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.
I had the opportunity to attend a funeral yesterday for my dad’s uncle. He was 86 years old and unfortunately had a lot of medical issues at the end that took his life. However, before he passed the pastor who had preached for his funeral had the opportunity to share the Gospel truth with him. He asked if he knew whether he was going to go to heaven. He responded in saying, “I hope so.” However, as that pastor said just hoping so is not good enough. For we can have a true certainty of whether we are going to heaven. We can have a blessed assurance that Jesus saves us from death and gives us life for we can have an assurance of faith that He is Risen! There are people in our world today who are uncertain of the afterlife. There are all kinds of ideas out there as well about heaven and about who goes and who does not. There are ideas about what we would be able to do once we get there. However, the only certainty we may have about heaven is what the Word of God says.
He is Risen! Do you know Him? Do you believe in Him? Do you trust Him? Do you have a blessed assurance? Is your faith worthwhile? I am here to tell you that even if I lose all the comforts of this life and lose all of the pleasures that this world has to offer, my faith in Jesus Christ and his resurrection is worthwhile. For he is Risen! He lives and because he lives, I can face what tomorrow brings and I can face the bitterness of the world. There are many out in our world right now who do not have this assurance of life everlasting. Therefore, it is our duty as those with a worthwhile faith to show them that they can have a worthwhile faith as well and an assurance of a resurrection for themselves in the kingdom of God.