Preface: Paul gives the Thessalonians (and us) a powerful hope for the future, the promise of the second coming of Christ.
Job asked the age-old question, “If a man die, shall he live again?” (Job 14:14). He understood the plight of his humans, for he wrote: “Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble. He comes forth like a flower, and withers; he flees like a shadow, and continues not” (verses 1, 2, RSV). Job understood that humanity was and is unclean because of sin and is condemned to death and that he can do nothing of himself to change that (verses 4, 5). He compares humankind to a tree: “For there is hope for a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its shoots will not cease. Though its root grow old in the earth, and its stump die in the ground, yet at the scent of water it will bud and put forth branches like a young plant”
Because of sin, we do not have that life within us that the tree has. We should note here that the tree is living after the way it has been created to live. The tree is better off. Does humanity have such hope?
The resurrection is one of the most ridiculed beliefs of Christianity. It is considered impossible simply because science cannot prove it. Modern humankind has not changed much. The Sadducees didn’t believe it either (Matt. 22:23). And when others “heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked” (Acts 17:32). Yet Jesus said: “Every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:40, KJV).
“A kindergarten teacher was determining how much religious training her new students had. While talking with one little boy, to whom obviously the story of Jesus was brand new, she began relating His death on the cross. When asked what a cross was, she picked up some sticks and fashioned a crude one. She explained that Jesus was actually nailed to the cross and died. The little boy, with eyes downcast, quietly acknowledged, ‘Oh, that’s too bad.’ In the very next breath, however, she related that He rose again and that He came back to life. And his little eyes got as big as saucers. He lit up and exclaimed, ‘Totally awesome!’ ”*
Our hope lies not in what we can do for ourselves, but in the incarnate resurrection of Jesus Christ!
Charles Swindoll, Growing Deep in the Christian Life
(Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1986).