‘Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect’ (1 Peter 3v15 – NIV).
Writing to Christians in the Roman Empire of the 1st Century AD, the Apostle Peter urged them to be prepared to explain why they were Christians if asked by non-Christians. It would seem that the early Christians were good at this because our faith spread rapidly across the Empire. It took root in households and work places and even in the Roman army because Christians in all walks of life were commending their faith.
If you were asked why you are a Christian, what would you say?
According to Peter, our hope of heaven, grounded on the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, should feature prominently in our answer. In chapter 1v3 of his letter, Peter reminded his Christian readers that God in his great mercy had given them ‘new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead’.
And in chapter 3, after giving them the command of v15, Peter reminded them they are saved by ‘the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand’ (v21b-22a).
So, whilst there is a range of helpful reasons we could give for being Christians – purpose in life, a sense of inner peace flowing from the knowledge that our sins are forgiven in Christ, the privilege of belonging to the Christian family – the historical fact of Jesus Christ’s bodily resurrection from the dead is the central reason for our Christian hope of life beyond death.
Peter himself was an eye-witness of the living Jesus Christ after our Lord rose from his tomb on the first Easter Sunday. Peter, who in fear for his life denied even knowing Jesus on the night of our Lord’s crucifixion, was transformed by his encounter with the risen Christ and was thereafter ready to die for his faith.
It is important for us to think through why we believe in the historical fact of the bodily resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead. Easter is a good time to reflect on this and so to be equipped graciously and lovingly to explain to non-Christian people the central reason for the Christian hope that we have.
March AD 2018