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Joy and Hope for the Christian



For Christians, Easter Sunday is a day of great joy and hope. But as I write this, war rages on in Gaza and Ukraine with no signs of a ceasefire on the horizon. The humanitarian crisis in both regions become more dire with each passing day. At the same time, simmering tensions in the Taiwan Straits, rising temperatures due to climate change, and increasing costs of living (just to name a few) cast a long and dark shadow over the future. Amidst such widespread turmoil and uncertainty, joy and hope appear distant, maybe even delusional.

 

As we learnt from our study of Genesis this year, the state of the world today can be attributed to sin entering the world at the Fall. Adam’s and Eve’s rebellion against God starts a continuous history of humans seeking to live apart from God, a pattern that carries on till today. The problem of sin and death is pervasive and persistent across time and space.

 

But Easter reminds us that the trajectory of human history took a decisive upward turn some 2000 years ago when Jesus died on the cross and rose from the grave three days later. Before Jesus, we were dead in our sins. Nothing awaited us except God’s judgement and condemnation. The future was grim. And Jesus’ death and resurrection changes it all!

 

These days, Generative Artificial Intelligence (Gen AI) is often touted as a game-changer. With Gen AI, tasks that were deemed impossible for machines (e.g., image generation) can now be accomplished with a speed and accuracy previously unheard of. And yet Gen AI pales in comparison to the cosmic game-changer that Jesus’ death and resurrection is.


When Jesus was nailed to the cross, our great debt of sin was nailed to the cross along with Him. And when Jesus rose from the dead that first Easter, God “made [us] alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses”! (Colossians 2:13-14) This is a reversal of a magnitude no technology can accomplish. From condemnation to forgiveness. From death to life. We who were utterly helpless and dead in our sins can how joyfully declare ourselves “dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus”! (Romans 6:11)

 

But how can we joyfully declare that when sometimes it feels like sin still has us entangled in its entrapments? In such moments, let us bring to remembrance Paul’s words that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Cor 5:17) Indeed, our old sinful selves have been nailed to the cross; it is dead and gone. Instead, Jesus’ resurrection ensures that we have been raised from the dead. By the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, we can claim Jesus’ victory over our sin and strive to live renewed lives holy and pleasing to God.

 

To be clear, this does not mean living happily ever after. We will struggle with the consequences of sin for as long as we live in this world (or until Jesus comes again). Loved ones will perish. Our hearts will be wrenched by grief and sorrow. We will experience hurt time and time again.

 

Even then, we can draw comfort and hope from knowing that all these are temporary as we await the eternal life in heaven secured by Jesus Christ. The apostle Peter writes that God, according to His great mercy, has “caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you”. (1 Peter 1:3-4) And we will experience this when Jesus comes again, ushering in the new heaven and new earth where death, mourning, crying, and pain will be no more. (Revelations 21:1-4)

 

What joyful news it is that Jesus Christ has saved us from our sins and freed us from condemnation! And what a great hope we have in knowing that the resurrected Jesus will one day come back to redeem creation and make all new things. And the best part is we have a place in this redeemed creation, secured by the blood of Jesus Christ Himself. This Easter, may we joyfully echo the refrain of the hymn Because He Lives:


Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!


- Deacon Samuel Chan

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