Without Loss, There is No Hope

(Read John 11)

Without-Loss,-There-is-no-HopeOn a few occasions, I have written about a friend suffering with a brain tumor. Just last week, I heard that her time on earth was nearing an end, and I planned to make a trip for one last hug with her this week. My friend called me the night before with hesitation and emotion, telling me his sister had passed.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
John 14:1-4

I had been regularly texting my friend and his wife about his sister’s condition over the past several months. Lately, I’ve been injecting more Christian thoughts and passages. I will never know, at least here in this life, if my friend (K) was a believer, but she certainly welcomed prayers, Biblical passages, and our ideas on heaven. I texted (K)’s brother this passage from John’s gospel to assure her of her future in Christ.

In John 14, Jesus was preparing His disciples for the inevitability of His death. To make matters worse, Jesus had also told them that one of their own had betrayed Him. Their world was turned upside down. Their hearts were troubled. Jesus’ promise to prepare a place for his disciples is significant because it demonstrates his love and concern for them. There would be room for all of them in His kingdom. It also serves as a reminder that Jesus is preparing a place for all believers and that a glorious future awaits us in heaven. He kept it simple, though, getting to heaven isn’t about rule following — we would fail. It’s not about achievements — we would still fail. It’s not about giving or doing; it’s about knowing. Knowing Jesus.

The closer we get to someone, the more we see wrinkles, imperfections, and weaknesses. Jesus says the opposite. He says that the closer we get to Him, the clearer we see God revealed in human form and the more we see His amazing miracles in this world and our life. “If you know me, you will know my Father also. (John 14:7)” For those of us looking for a secret key, road map, or exclusive invitation, we’re looking in the wrong place. We don’t have to look far to find what we’re looking for, we have to look above us, beside us, and inside us. Jesus’ promise has been alive since He emptied the tomb more than 2,000 years ago.

“As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. ‘Don’t be alarmed,’ he said. ‘You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.'”
Mark 16:5-6

The empty tomb is controversial for some. It was either a fairy tale, conspiracy, myth, or historical and world-changing event. For me, it’s basic. It’s hope. It’s not hope from a legend written in an old novel, it’s a historical message that is a source of hope, joy, and salvation for all people who believe in Jesus, that He is alive and present today.

The empty tomb confirms Jesus’ claims that everything He came to accomplish and said He would accomplish was true.

The empty tomb gives hope of a new life in Christ.

The empty tomb gives hope for salvation. It showed the reality of Jesus’ death and the evidence of Jesus’ resurrection.

The empty tomb shows victory over death.

Rachel Held Evans, a famous Christian author and blogger wrote about her struggles with illness and the hope of the resurrection in her book, Searching for Sunday. She wrote, “The resurrection doesn’t necessarily mean that all will be well in this life, but it means that death doesn’t get the final say. It means that love wins.” Evans tragically died in 2019 from complications of an illness at 37.

It’s interesting how superficially we look at Christmas as a time of hope, and oh yeah, there’s Easter too. One pastor I listen to said in a podcast, “It’s Easter. He is Risen!” Then he explained how many people and churches repeat this claim out of memory rather than a heartfelt proclamation. Without Jesus’ crucifixion on Good Friday, there would be no resurrection and empty tomb on Easter Sunday.

We might think that the empty tomb is about death, or more positively, we also might think it’s about Heaven. I think the significance of the empty tomb is that death is not the end and that all believers have hope of a glorious eternal life. By leaving the tomb empty and joining God in Heaven, Jesus demonstrated the ultimate proof that eternal life is possible through faith. Easter Sunday is a glorious reminder that eternal life is an achievable reality for all believers.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
John 11:25-26

I love that Jesus asked Martha if she believed what He told her. He challenged her. It asked Martha to commit herself to believe in Jesus and His promise. In much the same way, this challenge is extended to all of us. Do we put our faith where our mouth is? Do we trust Jesus as our Savior? Do we say, “He is Risen,” while at the same time worrying about if we’re too quiet, too loud, too good, or too flawed?

Losing a loved one is the hardest thing we will endure in life. For those of us with faith, losing a loved one is still brutal, but we have assurances. We have promises from our Savior that this is not the end for them, just as it wasn’t the end for Jesus Christ. His death on the cross did not finish Him. It did not silence Him. On the contrary, it verified every one of His promises. It opened a doorway for millions of others to join Him in our Father’s house.

Life without death is impossible, but if you’re a Christian, so is loss without hope. We hold onto a brighter future through the painful sting of death. Thanks to Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection, we are given all the truth, the light, and the hope we need.

Key Application:

  1. Do you believe in Christ’s resurrection? Do you worry about following the correct doctrine and knowing all the right answers?
  2. More importantly, do you know the person of the resurrection? Do you know Jesus? Pray this week that you embrace and welcome the hope that Christ has imparted to you. Allow it to make a difference in your life.

Where else in your life can you live out the teachings of Christ? Look for next week’s Devotion.

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