Apr14FriApril 14, 2017
By Rob Wilson
A year ago, as we were approaching Easter, my son Collin (who was 6 at the time) was riding with me in the truck while a Focus on the Family Adventures In Odyssey episode was playing on the radio. This episode happened to be about two young girls, one of which had cancer. As the story played out, we saw the two friends working through one of life’s great difficulties. The girl with cancer misses the dance recital that the two friends had practiced together for, because the cancer required her leg to be amputated. As the one girl struggles with the reason why God would allow this to happen to her friend, the girl with cancer describes to her friend a dream that she had in which she saw Jesus gathering sick children in his arms. Some children he healed, and others he comforted with the promise that he had a better plan for them. This dream gave the girl with cancer a sense of peace and hope. She knew Jesus, and she knew he was in control. As the story continued we found the girl with cancer back in the hospital again, and then finally her friend receiving the hard news that her friend with cancer had passed away.
About this point in the episode Collin and I had arrived at our destination and I was about to shut the truck off when Collin said “No Daddy, keep the radio on.” I don’t always know how much my son understands or pays attention to these radio programs, but this one had caught his attention. In his inquisitive fashion, Collin asked “Did the girl die?” I responded, “Yes.” Then there was the immediate “Why?”
“Because she had cancer,” I replied.
“Why?” Collin quickly asked again.
Now isn’t that the question we all ask? And isn’t that the question that none of us have a good answer for, because none of us like the fact that cancer happens, especially to young, seemingly innocent, children. So I began my attempt to answer Collin. I told him that cancer happens because this world is under the curse of sin. When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, the world was broken. Disease and pain entered the world, and yes, cancer entered the world too. But the girl in the story, because she is a Christian got to go to a better place, to heaven, where there is no pain, no death, and no cancer (Revelation 21:3-8).
Collin responded, matter of fact, “But not all people go to heaven.”
“Unfortunately, that is right,” I replied. “Those who don’t believe in Jesus, those who refuse to admit that they have sinned, and those who refuse Jesus’s forgiveness go to Hell. That is a place we don’t want anyone to go.”
Changing the direction of the conversation a little, I said, “You know Collin, Jesus is coming back some day and he is going to make this whole world new again. There will be no more cancer, no more sickness, and no more death. All people on earth will be loving and kind, never mean to each other; and we will live with Jesus.” Collin then asked “When is Jesus coming back?” I quickly replied, “I don’t know. It could be tomorrow or it could be when your great, great grandchildren are old.” Then Collin said something that surprised me and made me think. “Wouldn’t it be neat if Jesus came back on Easter?!”
Wow! I had never thought of that! What a time for Him to return (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17) as we celebrate the event in which Jesus singlehandedly defeated sin and broke its power, by completing a life lived perfectly without a single sin, dying as a payment for our sin, and then triumphantly rising from the dead three days later! In fact, it is because of the events that happened on Good Friday and Easter that we have so great a hope in Christ’s return. It is only because Jesus took our punishment on the cross that we can stand in God’s presence and receive the amazing adoption into God’s heavenly family as a son or daughter (Ephesians 1:5). It is only because of Christ’s incredible sacrifice on the cross that we have the hope of living with our believing family members and friends in paradise forever! All the great promises of heaven, such as the promise of no more death, sickness, or pain depend upon the events of Good Friday and Easter.
Without them there would be no new heaven or earth for us to live in someday, there would only be Hell. Without Good Friday and Easter, Christ’s return would be only for the judgment of sinners, and we are all sinners (Romans 3:23). We would have no real hope, only the sentence of eternal unending pain and torture starting the moment we finished life on this earth (Romans 6:23, Luke 16). In fact, without Good Friday and Easter, the thought of Jesus’s return would be horrifying. The great news is, however, that Jesus did come into our world and willingly chose to die on the cross in your place and mine, because he loved us so much!
The great news is that the grave could not hold him and he is alive in heaven now, seated at the right hand of God the Father, interceding (Romans 8:34-35) on our behalf and orchestrating the events of each of our lives, even the difficulties and pain, to draw us to him. For the best part of Jesus’s return will be to get to be with Jesus, to see him face to face, and to have him wrap his arms around us in a loving embrace. The best part of Jesus’s return will be to fully experience the immeasurable love of Christ (Ephesians 3:18-19), the love we have been longing for all of our lives.
So have you ever thought about Jesus coming back on Easter? I admit that I hadn’t. I’m sure part of the reason is that I love celebrating Easter, and in the midst of this celebration and the family time of this holiday, we get very busy. Yet, if I am honest, I have to admit that I don’t very often think of Jesus’s return, because I am so caught up in the things of this life. To go even further, I love a lot the things of this world; things which are not going to last all that long; things that don’t really given me any lasting joy, like knowing Jesus does. Sometimes God allows a bad diagnosis, and painful experiences (like the girl in the story above) to help us see what is truly important in life and to draw us back to Him. We don’t have to wait until Christ’s return to experience the great joy of His love. Are you experiencing His joy and peace today? Are you looking forward to Jesus’s return, or are you horrified at the thought of it? If it is the latter, you can be saved from impending judgment and experience immediately adoption into God’s family. Simply admit to God that you are sinner and ask for his forgiveness. Then honestly seek him, asking Jesus to help you to get know him, and to help you truly believe in his death and resurrection. After that, tell someone you know who is a Christian, and start daily reading the Bible and you will soon hear God’s response to your prayers!
I hope that you can join me and my son Collin this year in saying “wouldn’t it be neat if Jesus came back on Easter!”
Revelation 21:3-8- And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars- their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.
Romans 3:23- For all have sinned (disobeyed and rebelled against God) and fall short of the glory of God (God’s perfect Holiness is the standard by which we are measured).
Romans 6:23- For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:35-39- Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died- more than that, who was raised to life-, is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship…? … I am convinced that neither death nor life… neither the present not the future … nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ’ Jesus our Lord.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18- We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep (euphemism for death), that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope…. Vs 16 “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.”
1Corinthians 15:51-57- Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality… then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death where is your victory?” “O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who give us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 John 1:9- If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Matt Gibson is an elder at Grace Baptist Church, certified ACBC counselor, husband of Stacie and father of 4.
Stacie Gibson is Matt's wife, a mother of 4, a busy homemaker and home-educator in addition to being a certified ACBC counselor. She is a guest blogger at Biblical Counseling for Women.
Barb Leaman is a children's Sunday School teacher and a teacher's aide for the Hornell Jr and Sr. High Schools. She is wife to Glenn and mother to an adult daughter.
Dave Theobald is the preaching and teaching elder at Grace Baptist Church. He is married to Jamie and has a son Job.
Rob Wilson is a deacon of Grace Baptist Church, a veterinarian specializing in large animals, a farmer, a husband to Kim, and father to 2 energetic young boys.
Ustad ("teacher," in local dialect) is a global partner of GBC, who shares stories and perspectives from the field, for our encouragement and to help orient us on things eternal.