A Word of Encouragement from Elizabeth Rice Handford
Was all that suffering of Jesus on the cross in vain? Did He make that sacrifice all for nothing? His followers had believed Him. They had trusted Him to give them eternal life like He’d promised. Was it all a horrible nightmare?
It seemed so to the frightened people huddled in an upper room that bleak Saturday evening after He’d been crucified. But now He was dead, and His body lay in a borrowed tomb, guarded by elite Roman soldiers. Hope was gone. Their trust had been betrayed.
If Jesus were truly dead forever, their assessment was true. If Jesus did not rise from the dead as He promised, then all His other promises were lies too; nothing else He’d told them was true either. They were doomed forever. As the Apostle Paul said,
If Christ was not raised from the dead, then all our preaching is useless,
and your trust in God is useless. . . .
If Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless,
and you are still under condemnation for your sins.
In that case, all who have died
believing in Christ have perished!
And if we have hope in Christ only for this life,
we are the most miserable people in the world. 1 Cor. 15:14-19 nlt
Every dream of God’s forgiveness for sin, every hope for a relationship with God our Creator, every promise of eternal life was as illusion if Jesus was dead forever. And if so, “we are of all men most miserable.” But Jesus was—and is—God, and God cannot lie, and will not lie. (Titus 1:2 nlt says, “This truth gives them the confidence of eternal life, which God promised them before the world began–and He cannot lie.”)
What those sorrowing Christians had forgotten was that Jesus had plainly told them He would be “in the heart of the earth” for three days and three nights, as Jonah was in the big fish’s belly (Matt. 10:40). They’d heard the words, but they’d forgotten them. So The Apostle Paul continues the assurance God gave us:
But the fact is that Christ has been raised from the dead.
He has become the first of a great harvest
of those who will be raised to life again.
For Christ must reign
until He humbles all His enemies beneath His feet.
And the last enemy to be destroyed is death. 1 Cor, 15:20-26 nlt.
Oh, yes, yes, yes! Jesus did rise from the dead on that blessed Sunday morning, exactly as He had promised. So every truth, every promise, every assurance He has given us in His Word is true, and will be true through eternity. He did rise from the dead; He conquered sin and hell. In this stricken world, where so much grief, so much pain exist, the truth of Easter, Christ’s resurrection, is the most wonderful news we could ever hear. Because Jesus rose from the dead, God has given us everything we could ever