Hope in the God of the living does not disappoint
What are you willing to stand up for? Some would stand up for freedom. Protestors across the nation have stood up for freedom from the recent restrictions. How about morality? Many want the right morals in our society but will you stand up for them? What about your family? Perhaps you’ve grown a little ti
red of them since you’ve been stuck with them for so long, but you would still stand up for them. Some of you would even say “Jesus.” “Stand up, stand up for Jesus, you soldiers of the Cross!” as the anthem sings. But what about Jesus would you stand up for? Why do you stand up for him? The most consistent topic of Jesus that his followers had to stand up for was one date, one fact, one event. It was the first Easter. Are you willing to stand up for the physical, bodily resurrection of Jesus?
Everything we have as Christians (everything we believe in, follow, and know about God) is grounded in the resurrection of Jesus. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15 that everything, even the morality that Christians follow and promote, would be meaningless if it were not for the physical, bodily resurrection of Jesus.
One saying says, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” But as Christians, every egg we have is there in the basket of the empty tomb of Jesus. That is a safe and secure place because hope in the God of the living does not disappoint. No one displays that better than Paul. Paul knew that hope in the God of the living does not disappoint.
Paul was a first century Christian missionary. His work, along with others who trusted in the resurrection of Jesus, is written in the book of Acts. Paul was arrested at the Temple in Jerusalem and then stood before the same court that pushed to executed Jesus, the Sanhedrin. The session erupted into a brawl when Paul asserted his belief in the resurrection, a divisive issue for Pharisees and Sadducees. A troop of Roman soldiers swooped in to rescue Paul from the violent eruption. Then the Roman officer transferred Paul to the custody of the regional governor.
Paul was spared a plot on his life by a snitch and he escaped during the night. A letter was written to the governor stating the accusations of the Sanhedrin. It was a matter of their own law and there was no basis for death of imprisonment found (like Jesus). Paul was kept on guard in Herod’s place.
After 5 days, the accusers were able to catch up and the trial began. Tertullus, the lawyer handling the case against Paul, had a list of accusations: public menace, stirring up riots, ringleader for Nazarene sect. He accused Paul of attempting to desecrate the temple (bringing a Gentile into the certain temple court for Jews only). Witnesses were then brought forth and affirmed everything.
Then it was Paul’s turn to speak. He had his moment to defend himself. What will he do?
10 When the governor motioned for him to speak, Paul replied: “I know that for a number of years you have been a judge over this nation; so I gladly make my defense. 11 You can easily verify that no more than twelve days ago I went up to Jerusalem to worship. 12 My accusers did not find me arguing with anyone at the temple, or stirring up a crowd in the synagogues or anywhere else in the city. 13 And they cannot prove to you the charges they are now making against me. 14 However, I admit that I worship the God of our fathers as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that agrees with the Law and that is written in the Prophets, 15 and I have the same hope in God as these men, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. 16 So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.
After offering his side of the account and explaining his innocence, he confessed the resurrection of the dead.
Guess where it got him? He was severely beat up because of this. Paul wasn’t standing there without a limp, bruise, or bandage. When he was in Jerusalem, the Roman soldiers had to jump in and rescue him because of the bad beating he was receiving. Paul had to be carried off because of the violence of the mob (Acts 21:35). Now he is standing trial because of that belief in the Jesus who rose from the dead.
Why was Paul willing to stand up for Jesus’ resurrection? Because that resurrection brought Paul in. He confessed his past. He used to hunt down Christians. He thought he was pleasing God but he was against God. The resurrected Jesus, alive and well, appeared to Paul to save him. Paul confessed his struggle with sin but found full freedom and forgiveness in a living and victorious Jesus. Paul’s life was no parade. It was not a festival. It was work. It was difficult. But it was worth it.
Jesus consistently told his disciples while he was here on earth “Survival, power, pleasure, worldly comfort, that is not my kingdom, that is not why I came. I came to serve and to give my life as a ransom. I came to die for you to save you from the grips of Satan.” Jesus lives and reigns eternally as a loving, forgiving, helping Jesus. At the heart and center of your difficulties is the most joyful news. He is alive. You are not defined by the hardship, but by the victory of Jesus.
The resurrection changes everything. Yes, life is going to be hard. But every difficulty is an opportunity. God gave you this hardship. Don’t waste it on complaining, laziness, self-loathing, and simply surviving. Those are only products of the damnable, sinful self inside you.
I am not going to provide the quick tips on how to survive, people have already done that. But I am going to share the gospel with you because of the resurrection. This is something you won’t get from many of the blogs and videos. Jesus Christ died for you. He rose for you. He forgives you. Jesus Christ redeems the struggle. The resurrected Jesus is something worth standing up for because it was God’s way of standing up for you.
When Satan accuses you and your conscience attacks you, remember Jesus stood up for you. He stood up under every accusation, every true statement about your sin and he took the punishment from the Father. That is a real brother who seeks and saves the lost. He didn’t remain under the consequence but is alive. Hope in the God of the living does not disappoint.
The belief in the resurrection gave Paul a sharp purpose on serving others. 17 “After an absence of several years, I came to Jerusalem to bring my people gifts for the poor and to present offerings. 18 I was ceremonially clean when they found me in the temple courts doing this. There was no crowd with me, nor was I involved in any disturbance. 19 But there are some Jews from the province of Asia, who ought to be here before you and bring charges if they have anything against me. 20 Or these who are here should state what crime they found in me when I stood before the Sanhedrin— 21 unless it was this one thing I shouted as I stood in their presence: ‘It is concerning the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial before you today.’ ”
Paul had a plan to serve. He mentioned his offering which was a big campaign that he promoted to all the churches that he traveled to. He wrote to some churches ahead of time and asked them to help prepare this offering to assist with the ministry to the poor in Jerusalem. He lived with intention to serve.
Intentional people end somewhere on purpose. This is an invitation to live and love in light of the resurrection. Live your life on purpose. Do everything that you are going through with purpose.
Will you be concerned with preserving your life? Or will you live for something more? Will you say yes to fear, which leads to self-preservation? Resurrection and the hope that does not disappoint from the God of the living brings abundance. When you have a life of abundance, you are free to give.
His story was worth telling. Let's make sure that the stories we tell about this someday are worth telling. Paul didn’t want to keep this to himself.
I am standing here talking to a camera in an empty church building. But Jesus still lives. Jesus still rules. That event, above everything else, is worth standing up for. It is worth dying for. Hope in the God of the living does not disappoint. Amen.