We all go through struggles or hardships from time to time. But no matter how rough we have it, it’s pretty easy to look around us and see someone else who arouses our pity. For example, we might be feeling sorry for ourselves because we have car trouble. But then, we see someone who doesn’t have legs and cannot walk. All of a sudden, our transportation problem doesn’t seem quite so bad.
We might be having trouble paying our bills. But then we read about someone who has been kidnapped and sold into slavery like the girls captured by Boko Haram in Nigeria. Maybe we don’t have all the things we’d like, but at least we’re free.
There are people who are even worse off than those who have physical handicaps or have lost their freedom. Several years ago, I was helping to fix up a storefront so it could be rented. One day I forgot to lock the door and a wino wandered in. I climbed down off my ladder to see what he wanted. He was just curious about what I was doing. We chatted a bit about this and that when, all of a sudden – without warning – he began to cry. “I was in the Bataan Death March,” he said. “I saw 3,000 men die.” Then, he turned around and stumbled out the door. I stood there with my mouth hanging open. I didn’t know what to say or what to do.
Later, I tried to help the man, but was unable to do so. He couldn’t overcome the horror he’d experienced over 30 years in the past. I couldn’t get through that barrier.
As much as we might pity a person with poor health or physical handicaps, as much as we might pity a person who is destitute or has lost his freedom, as much as we might pity a person who has been traumatized by torture and unspeakable horror, the Bible tells us that there is another kind of person who should be pitied even more.
Let’s read about it in 1st Corinthians, chapter 15, starting in verse 12. “But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.” (1 Corinthians 15:12-19 NIV)
Did you get that? Paul writes that if Jesus did not rise from the dead, those of us who call ourselves Christians and who put our faith in Christ, should be pitied more than anyone. Why should we be pitied? Because out faith is worse than useless, our hope is misplaced – we’re counting on something which won’t happen. Even worse that that, we are still in our sins. We haven’t been forgiven for the wrong we’ve done.
However, the truth of the matter is that Jesus did rise from the dead! When the disciples came to the grave, they found it empty – in spite of the fact it was guarded by Roman soldiers, with orders to make sure that Jesus’ body stayed right there.
There are times when we doubt. There are times when we question whether we’ve put our faith in the right thing or in the right Person. One of the purposes for Communion, or the Lord’s Supper is to remind us again of the facts. Yes, Jesus died. The bread we eat reminds us of His broken body. The juice we drink reminds us that His blood was poured out as a sacrifice on our behalf. Yes, Jesus was buried. But there is much more to Communion than remembering Christ’s death.
Jesus instructed His disciples to eat and drink in remembrance of Him, but He said to do it until He comes again. When we eat of the bread and drink of the cup, it reminds us that Jesus not only died, but that He rose again. It reminds us that death is not the end.
Scripture tells us that if we die with Christ, we will live with Him as well.
Not only does Jesus give us new spiritual life, because He rose from the dead, we have confidence that we will rise from the grave also.
Because Jesus overcame, we have a sure hope that we also will overcome. Because He lives forever, those who put their faith in Him will also live forever. Because our faith is grounded in the fact of Jesus’ resurrection, we don’t need anyone’s pity. On the contrary, our faith, the forgiveness we have and our hope should be the envy of everyone who has not submitted himself to Christ.
Today as we eat the bread and drink the juice, let’s rejoice in Christ’s resurrection. Let us renew the hope we have, because He rose from the dead.