One of the classic portions of Scripture unpacking the resurrection of Jesus – and what Easter really means – is 1 Corinthians 15.
In that passage, the apostle Paul argues that the resurrection is the non-negotiable foundation of Christian faith, to the degree that without it, “your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (v. 17). Then verse 19 goes a step further: “If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.”
In other words, Paul is saying that without the bodily resurrection of Jesus, which is the foretaste of the eternal resurrection life that is available to everyone in Christ, then we are downright pitiful.
Resurrection has been on my mind in a really heavy way lately because my oldest daughter Gemma recently got really sick. So sick that she could have died. Her rare case of bacterial meningitis brought her closer to that edge than I even want to admit, and it was a frightening thing for our family.
And watching her recover, after more than a month of being so sick and weak, has been like watching resurrection before our very eyes.
I have an even greater appreciation for Paul’s words now, because this life can’t be all there is. And perhaps my tendency is to overemphasize the things of the kingdom that apply to the now, rather than the things that apply to the not-yet. Perhaps my tendency is to move out of that faith-space where the resurrection of Jesus is the foundational grounding of my whole existence, and instead to get caught up in things that pale in comparison. Things that might even be considered pitiful.
As painful as it was to experience, for Gemma especially and also for her mom and me, I do believe God has given me a visceral taste of what our resurrection hope is really all about. Life is so precious, so wonderful and brilliant, a good gift of God that is not meant to be extinguished. As I pleaded with God for my sweet baby’s life, I knew this in my bones like never before. And Jesus has made a way for that dastardly enemy Death to be defeated once and for all.
That’s where I want my core focus to be – on the historic hope that has guided the Christian faith and church for millennia and turned the world upside down in the process.
The hope of resurrection.
Because nothing can stop that hope.
It is the opposite of pitiful.