Easter 2020 – Sermon notes and Life Group Study
I. Hope Needed
“We have this hope an anchor for the soul, firm and secure”
– Hebrews 6:19
“When we have overcome absence with phone calls, winglessness with airplanes, summer heat with air-conditioning – when we have overcome all these and much more besides, then there will abide two things with which we must cope: the evil in our hearts and death.”
– Yale philosopher, Nicholas Wolterstorff
Christian hope isn’t a “wish” for something good in the future; it’s rooted in the action of God in real history.
Christian hope is resurrection hope. It’s new creation hope.
II. A Living Hope
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade” (1 Peter 1:3-4).
Christian hope is a Living Hope, because it is rooted in a Person. This hope is rooted in Jesus – the Creator who becomes part of his Creation to bring about New Creation.
“Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw the stone had been removed from the entrance.”
– John 20:1
“First day of the week” – this language echoes the creation story of Genesis, marking this day of Jesus’ resurrection as the beginning of a “new creation” work of God
“While it was still dark.” All the Gospels mention that the women visit the tomb early in the morning: Johns Gospeldraws out this detail of darkness. Darkness also echoes the creation story. “Darkness was over the surface of the waters,” we read in Genesis. The first day of the week in the Creation story is God’s separating the light from the darkness; it’s the beginning of Creation.
This is the Starting Over – the Beginning Again – that our hearts are ultimately longing for. This is the Living Hope. He is our Living Hope!
This hope is ours, even when we feel in the dark. It’s not just a “wish” for something good to happen in the future – it looks back at God’s work and says, “Yes, Jesus was raised, so we have a hope that goes beyond the grave too.”
Paul says it like this in Romans 8:11: “He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your moral bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.”
III. Hope For Right Now
“Where fear is the future expectation of pain or hardship, hope is the future expectation of a positive event.”
– Matthew Elliot, Faithful Feelings: Rethinking Emotion in the New Testament
When we embrace what God has done for us through Jesus, the hope that we gain transforms our “What if’s?” into “Even if’s”. “What if?” is a fear based way of thinking. Hope says, “Even if” because we know that despite all appearances otherwise, God’s future for us is good.
“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.”
– 1 Thessalonians 4:13
- We need to know something. To “not be uninformed” means; “you need to realize something…and this something changes everything.”
- We “must not grieve like the rest of humanity”. This means they are grieving. But the mode of grieving is going to be different.
- The difference is hopelessness…or hope that comes through Jesus.
“Replacing “what if” with “even if” is one of the most liberating exchanges we can make. We trade our irrational fears of an uncertain situation for the loving assurance of an unchanging God.”
- Vaneetha Rendall Risner
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.”
– Hebrews 13:8
Being anchored in hope – knowing the unchanging One holds us – this releases us to get to work joining God in loving and serving this world – fearlessly being agents of God’s new creative works in our world.
IV. Embracing Hope
How do we move from the “What if’s?” to the “Even if’s?”
It’s by moving where we locate our hope. By changing where our trust is set.
“I am always with you, even to the end of the age.”
– Matthew 28:20
Life Group Discussion:
1. Take a few minutes to just check in with your group. What have been some highlights from this week? What have been some challenges?
2. Reflect for a moment on Hebrews 13:8. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” What does knowing that offer you at this moment?
3. In his message, Pastor Dave shared this quote:
“Replacing “what if” with “even if” is one of the most liberating exchanges we can make. We trade our irrational fears of an uncertain situation for the loving assurance of an unchanging God.” – Vaneetha Rendall Risner
a. How have you experienced this?
b. What keeps you from living in this way more consistently?
4. In his message, Pastor Dave pointed out how the whole of John’s Gospel is about God launching his new creation work through Jesus. One element of this “new creation” picture comes up when Jesus connects with his disciples in John 20:21-22. Take some time to read and reflect on these verses.
- How does this event echo the creation narrative in Genesis 2:7?
- What would it mean to understand that receiving the Holy Spirit is equated with God’s initial creation? (see also 2 Corinthians 5:17).
- With the power of the Holy Spirit indwelling believers we are, like the first disciples, sent into the world to be bearers of this hope to the rest of the world. What might that look like for you and your Life Group in this particular moment in history?
Take the commission and promise of Jesus in John 20:21-22 as a guide to direct your time of prayer. Take a moment to pray back the words of Romans 15:13 for each other, and others in your life.