Theme of the Week: Why Easter Changes Everything
Bible Verse: Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Colossians 3:5 ESV
Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 1:8-11; Acts 19:23–41; 1 Corinthians 15:32; 16:9; 2 Corinthians 11:24
Have you ever faced a life-threatening situation as a result of your commitment to serve Jesus Christ?
Few believers in the western hemisphere have faced such a threat. But the apostle Paul did while he was serving Christ in Asia. Paul’s troubles—that he labels “our affliction” or “our trial”—were so severe that he expected to die.
He was burdened excessively, far beyond his strength. At the time, Paul felt like he was under a death sentence from which he could not escape. We can only speculate as to the nature of this affliction.
Whatever the nature of his trial, Paul sees a purpose in it. The purpose is to teach him to rely on God who raises the dead. Three times in 2 Corinthians 1:10, Paul speaks about God’s deliverance from trial. The first time he refers to past deliverance. The next two times he anticipates God’s future deliverance.
His hope comes from a God who raises the dead. So why in this passage does Paul highlight God’s act of raising the dead?
Paul refers here to God not only as the one who raised Jesus, but as the one who “raises the dead”—plural! Here, as in 1 Corinthians 15:20–23, he anticipates our future resurrection as the logical consequence of Jesus’s resurrection.
It is one thing for God to be compassionate to his children when they face extreme distress. But if he is not powerful enough to intervene and rescue them from these deadly situations, then there is no reason for hope and no reason to pray.
God’s ability to raise the dead demonstrates his power to rescue his people from life-threatening situations. Interestingly, as Paul wraps up 2 Corinthians, he returns to the theme of God’s power and alludes to the resurrection when he says: “He [Christ] was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God’s power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God’s power we will live with him in our dealing with you” (13:4). This changes the way we can deal with trials here and now. Instead of wondering if God is present and powerful enough to help us, we can remember that he is the God who raises the dead—giving us confidence and courage to press on. Knowing that the God who raised Jesus from death will one day raise us to new bodily life gives us “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow”1 even when our present circumstances seem overwhelming.
1 These words come from the hymn Great Is Thy Faithfulness, stanza three. Words: Thomas O. Chisholm (1866-1960); Music: William M. Runyan (1870-1957). Words and Music copyright ©1923 renewal 1951 by Hope Publishing Co.
Some content taken from Risen: 50 Reasons Why the Resurrection Changed Everything. Copyright © 2013 by Steven D. Mathewson. Used by permission of Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, www.bakerpublishinggroup.com
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