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What Covid-19 can’t touch

What Covid-19 can’t touch
Posted on June 17, 2020  - By Revanth T.

The coronavirus has had a horrendous impact on human life — in some ways, even worse than any natural disaster (say, an earthquake) could have. Earthquakes are spine-chilling and perilous, because they rock what we thought was durable and secure. But COVID-19 has shaken our beliefs, and many of us are grappling with adapting to this unforeseen reality.

Things we took for granted — lunch with friends after church, kids going to school every morning, the Indian Premier League season — have been cancelled or rescheduled. And, now, we’re doing things we could never have envisaged — standing a few feet away from friends, disinfecting the packaging on the groceries we buy, getting “together” on Zoom for Sunday worship, and many more. Profits of numerous businesses have plummeted, education is fully online, several friends have been hospitalised, and some have died.

At a time like this, it’s especially vital to ponder and celebrate the things that COVID-19 can’t alter: one of which is “a living hope” that we have “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). This was true before the pandemic and will remain long after the virus is gone. Jesus’ resurrection (and its implications for the believer) — a permanent corrective to COVID-19 and anything else that might threaten us — is our firm foundation when much else we pinned our faith on has been shaken.

Jesus’ resurrection is a permanent corrective to COVID-19 and anything else that might threaten us

Twin promises

The Gospels and the rest of the New Testament emphatically declare that Jesus rose again from the dead three days after His crucifixion. The implicit apologetic they offer includes the empty tomb, the bodily appearances of Jesus, the birth of the church, and the conversion of sceptics like Thomas and Paul.

The purpose of this article is not so much to look at the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection as to see the benefits of it in the lives of believers, particularly amidst the scare of this pandemic.

1 Peter 1:3 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” Jesus’ resurrection, says Peter, brings us at least two life-changing blessings — a living hope and a new life. It’s encouraging to consider these twin promises looking at the New Testament’s comprehensive witness.

Living hope

Death is dreaded by people in all cultures. Most people face death with a predictable discomposure. Woody Allen epitomised this fear when he quipped, “I’m not afraid of death; I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”

The coronavirus has affected over 8.2 million people, and claimed over 400,000 lives around the world. The death of a loved one robs us of something we value most — relationship. But the hope that believers have through the resurrection of Jesus makes us face death boldly, and “not grieve as others do who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13). Paul’s lengthy explication of resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15 climaxes with this powerful declaration: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

Because of Jesus’ resurrection, death has lost its sting. And by His resurrection, He destroyed death and “brought life and immortality to light” (2 Timothy 1:10).

How do we understand this hope and its workings?

Risen, to die no more

The Jews in Jesus’ day believed in a general resurrection of all people at the end of history when God would usher in the new age (Daniel 12:1-2). Martha’s response to Jesus demonstrated this great hope as she believed that her brother Lazarus would “rise again in the resurrection on the last day” (John 11:24).

When Jesus told Lazarus to come out of the tomb, that certainly wasn’t what she was expecting. Lazarus, however, returned to this life only to die again later. That’s why C.S. Lewis sympathetically said, “Poor Lazarus had to do his dying all over again.”

The remarkable thing about Jesus’ resurrection is that He rose to a new life beyond death, and He would never die again. His resurrection was the inauguration of the new age. What took every Jew by surprise was that God did to Jesus in the middle of history what they believed He would do to everyone at the end of time.

Lazarus returned to this life only to die again later. Jesus rose to… never die again. His resurrection was the inauguration of the new age

Jesus’ resurrection both foretokens and makes possible our resurrection, for which we still wait in confident hope. Jesus’ resurrected body is the prototype of the resurrection body that believers will have on that great day. And Jesus’ resurrection is the first, followed by a multitude of resurrections at His coming. When He appears, our Lord Jesus Christ “will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body” (Philippians 3:21).

Our world needs this message today. It is full of fear — not least, of death. There’s also a great lack of hope at present in the world. But for those of us who have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, let’s remember that we, right now, have “a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”.

Newness of life

Jesus was raised from the dead so that “we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). We don’t have to wait till we see Him face to face to experience resurrection life. We now live as those who belong to the new age. Jesus’ resurrection is vital for our understanding as it is connected to our life on earth as God’s people.

What does it mean to live right now as those who have been raised with Christ? Colossians 3 gives a detailed explanation. We are to set our “minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth”. We must resist the temptations of “sexual immorality, impurity, evil desire, covetousness, anger, slander and obscene talk”.

As God’s chosen ones, we are to clothe ourselves with “compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience”. Above all these, we are to “put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony”. And finally, whatever we do, we must “do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him”.

No bed of roses

There’s one more sobering thought — since we experience the resurrection life now, we should also expect to share in His sufferings (Philippians 3:10). Resurrection life is no bed of roses. To have been raised with Christ means we must die to self and live for Him. There’s a cost to be paid. And our final victory over pain, sin and death does not come until the day of our own resurrection.

Until that day, let us “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14), remembering that neither COVID-19 “nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord”.

Revanth T.

About Revanth T.

Based in Bangalore, India, Revanth T is Executive Director of Truth and Life Academy, a non-formal Christian theological institute, and a regular preacher and teacher at his local assembly. His passions include expository preaching, theology and hermeneutics. He is married to Angela and they have a son, Asher Abraham.



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