I love to read. But when I read fiction, I do something that drives my wife crazy. I read the first four or five chapters of the book, then I read the last two chapters. That's right. I read the end of the story. By doing so, I can relax, not be in suspense and enjoy the read because I know the end of the story.
Easter Sunday is just days away. As Christians gather to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, we know the end of the story.
But if we were to travel back in time 2000 years to Jerusalem, the followers of the Lord Jesus did not know how the story would play out. For a few short years, they followed Jesus of Nazareth, believing he was not only the hope for Israel, but the long expected Messiah. They had placed their hope, faith, life and future in Him. But with his death, there was no hope.
Darkness and despondency was all around. The disciples stood nearby as they watched their leader...their Lord crucified by an angry mob of Jewish leaders with the Roman soldiers doing all the dirty work.
In their minds, Jesus had come to establish a kingdom, but now He was dead. It was all over. They had watched Him be taken away to be buried. They knew He was placed in a new tomb, owned by Joseph of Arimethia. A stone was placed across the front of the grave. The tomb was sealed. It was guarded. Time from the evening of the crucifixion to Sunday morning was nothing more than despair, grief, questioning. No hope.
But what had transpired over the week-end, they knew not.
Oftentimes, we are in the same situation as the disciples. Things do not turn out the way we expect. Our plans are gone. We get depressed, discouraged, perplexed. No hope.
But here is the good news. In spite of the visible circumstances around us, God is at work. We may not always see it. It may not be the way we pictured it would turn out. But God is at work.
While the disciples did not detect what was happening, the darkness hour man had ever known was followed by the most glorious dawn! Jesus was no longer dead. He was alive...and is alive forevermore.
Yes, the end of the story has been written. Jesus is alive and because of His resurrection we have hope!
Bruce Raley has served as executive pastor of First Baptist Church of Hendersonville since January 2016. Prior ministries included LifeWay Christian Resources, First Baptist Church of Panama City, Fla, and Walnut Street Baptist Church of Jonesboro, Ark. A native of Arkansas, Bruce is married to Donna. They have two children and two grandchildren.