Quiet Streets. Motionless cities. Self-isolation. I think we can all agree that this isn’t quite the Easter weekend we were expecting. For what seems like the first time in my lifetime, humanity across the earth is in the same boat with the same challenge and the same need of rescue, redemption and intervention.
Our church buildings carry the words, Jesus, Hope for Humanity. I remember when those words were first placed out front of the Hills Campus in Sydney many years ago. They were only meant to be on display for a few weeks, but I loved the truth they exuded too much to take them down. I love the imagery of every man, woman and child entering the House of God and being welcomed “home” under a banner of the Name above all names, JESUS. Many years later, those words are intentionally mounted on many of our buildings.
Even today, as our church buildings remain closed, I can’t help but imagine those same words coming to life in your household this Holy weekend: Jesus, Hope for Humanity. Church is coming to you – wherever you are – and online services will be powerful. We may not be able to physically gather together, but praise God we can gather online in homes and lounge rooms across cities and nations, worshipping Jesus as we remember His death and celebrate His resurrection.
So, what is this hope that we have?
C.S. Lewis wrote, “The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.” Jesus walked this earth in the footsteps of man so that men could walk in His footsteps. He emptied himself so that we could be filled with His goodness. Jesus conquered death so that we could receive the gift of abundant life in Him. Jesus – the promised Messiah – has come, and our ultimate hope is that He is coming again. The Easter story is anchored in history, yet profoundly impacts the present as we remind ourselves that the resurrected Saviour, Jesus Christ is alive, victorious and seated at the right hand of God the Father.
As the world grapples with Coronavirus, I have seen recent images of empty streets and vacant city centres. I have read stories of overwhelmed hospitals and lack of medical supplies. I have self-isolated for over two weeks and I am aware that many are concerned for their safety and the safety of family. My friends, allow me to encourage you amidst such times to hold on to your faith as it is evidence of Christ’s victory on the cross. Yes, this Easter will be different, but Good Friday is a good day to remain hopeful, for Resurrection Sunday is coming!
I’ll close with a passage of scripture from 1 Peter 1:3-7 in the Message paraphrase that gives beautiful expression to the hope of new life in Christ:
What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole.
I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime. Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory.
The ultimate message of Easter is one of new life, victory, hope and freedom as Jesus continues to change lives and set people free. My prayer for you this Easter is that you would experience the unshakeable hope and life-transforming presence of Jesus like never before. Jesus is alive, He is the hope for humanity – this Good News is for everyone!
This weekend may look different, but it will still be wonderful. I hope you will join us online for Easter Services at hillsong.com/online.
Global Senior Pastor