If Christ be not risen, life is miserable for a Christian. That about sums it up. If Jesus is not alive right now, then of all the people of the earth, Christians are the most to be pitied, and are living a miserable life. The Apostle Paul makes this same argument in 1 Corinthians 15, and how right he is. For the Christian, the resurrection of Jesus ought to be more than a reason to hide candy laden eggs for children. The resurrection is a line of demarcation that separates the grumpy from the glad. The resurrection is a reason to daily rejoice and celebrate like kids at the end of a school year.
However, all that rejoicing is empty, void and null if instead of an empty grave there was a rotting corpse. Think on it; if Jesus is still dead, the whole point of Christianity is entirely lost. Jesus claimed that He came to give us abundant life (Jn. 10:10), if He is still dead, what sort of life can He give us? The life a dead man can give is like the water that Death Valley can give, only worse. A dead man can’t give life, and he certainly can’t give abundant, rich, joyous life. Thus, if Jesus were dead, the worst way to spend your life, time, and money is on Christianity. In fact, if Jesus were dead, then “eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die” would be a great motto for your 70 trips around the sun. If Jesus were dead, we ought to look with pity at the misery of those who are giving up all the pleasures this world affords by spending their life living for a “promised” eternal life; and the one who promised them eternal life is dead, so, good luck with that living eternally stuff! It would be like a hobo promising to teach you a “get-rich-quick” strategy, not very believable. You’d likely be a fool to follow his advice. If Jesus were dead, his promise of abundant and joyous life would be a rather hallow sound: “Hey, follow a dead guy and you’ll receive eternal life.” Yeah . . . right.
But, Jesus is not dead.
Jesus is very much alive.
Thus, the tables are turned on the atheistic rationalism of our materialistic generation. If Jesus were dead, it would be wise to follow their advice; but since He is alive, the believer has a pathway to pleasures which the materialistic mind cannot imagine possible. The historical fact of the resurrection of Christ is always going to be enemy number one to the materialist; Jesus’ promise of an everlasting life means that if you live for self in this life, you will not have eternal life, but rather eternal death and torment. If you forsake this earthly life, and bank on the promise of Christ’s eternal life, you receive not just eternal life, but in this earthly life you get the “good life!” On hearing Jesus declare how difficult it is for a rich man to enter into heaven–due to his love of earthly things, and this temporal life–Peter declares, “Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee. And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life (Mark 10:28-30).”
The Risen Savior does not merely impart to the Christian a “get out of hell free card,” nor a fast pass to heaven to escape this mess of a world; rather, the Risen and Indwelling Savior is to the believer Heaven here, and Heaven now. For Heaven is no Heaven where Christ be absent; and by faith the Christian is given the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus and receives the earnest of salvation. Heaven starts now for the believer; and the resurrection of Jesus Christ makes this desert known as earth into an oasis of delight and joy. Every stem on every tree, every grain of sand on every beach, every star in every galaxy becomes a reason to rejoice in the Creator and Savior of the world: Jesus Christ. Indeed, the resurrection turns the prison cell into a sanctuary, and makes the most lavish castle appear a dull imitation of the real glory of the eternal kingdom of Christ.
If Christ is dead, then yes, life is miserable for a Christian. Yet, since He is alive, we get it good! The sunrise of that glorious Sunday morning when Christ arose, was not just the dawning of a new day, it was the dawning of a new age; an age in which those who believe upon, and thereby receive life in His name, get to drink freely of the Fountainhead of all joy and gladness.
Too many Christians live in the gloomy city of B.C. We are not given the role of being the world’s humbugs, we are given the role of proclaiming: “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price (Isaiah 55:1).” The “it” being not merely an earthly feast, but rather, come and get HIM. He has, after all, laid a table before us in the presence of our enemies (Ps. 23:5).
We are not in darkness, we are in the light. We are not the losers, we are the conquerors. We are not paying tribute to the Prince of Darkness grim, rather, this whole creation is now a sanctuary that fixes the believers attention to the whole point of it all, and the One from Whom all blessings flow: Christ.
Nevertheless, we must remember that the human heart is ingenious at mistaking means as the end. Meaning, do not settle for the joys of this life simply because we are given all things to freely enjoy (1 Tim. 6:17). Do not mistake this earth for the new earth. Do not mistake this heaven for the new heavens. Do not mistake earthly suppers for the marriage supper of the Lamb. The Christian should be a perfect mixture of gladness and gravitas. We are not gloomy, but there is a hint of sorrow in all our earthly joys. It is not a grievous, hopeless sorrow, but rather an aching, hope-filled sorrow. All creation is groaning for it, and we ourselves groan inwardly (Rom. 8:22-23). This life in Christ is good, no mistake, for: “to me to live is Christ (Phi. 1:21).” But, as the Israelites ate the first passover with staff in hand, so too, we ought to learn, as Calvin put it, “to have one foot raised to take our departure when it shall please God.”
The Christian, because of the resurrection, gets joy unspeakable and full of gladness right now, in every circumstance rejoicing (whether good, bad, rich, poor, or otherwise). Yet, may we walk sober-minded, not intoxicated with the enchanting pleasures of this world. Grave and glad is the motto for the Christian. We rejoice with trembling. We feast, with an ache for that heavenly feast. We laugh, with a slight tinge of pain, because the real punch line has yet to come. We delight, all the while knowing it gets even better. We get Jesus now and for eternity, and though this earthly world is lovely and showcases the handiwork of our Lord and Savior, it is not worth comparing to the real thing that is coming. All because, Jesus is alive!