Easter is very much about hope. My wife gave something to read last week. Let me share it with you. Fifty years ago, a scientist of questionable integrity, stumbled on an enormously important finding. Curt Richter placed some ordinary rats in jars of water, to see how long they would survive before drowning. The average time the rats could keep their heads above water was seventeen minutes. Richter then repeated the experiment with a new group of rats, but this time rescued half of them from their jars just moments before he thought they would drown.
He dried them off and let them recover. Half the rats were left swimming in the jars. How long do you expect the remaining rats would continue to tread water? Remarkably, the rats left in their jars continued swimming for an average of thirty six hours. That’s 120 times longer than the original group. Richter recalled that some rats even swam for up to 3 days. To what did he attribute the difference between the rats who gave up and the rats who continued swimming? HOPE! In the harshness of a desperate situation, having hope was the sole difference between giving up and persevering.
The rats who swan alongside a comrade who had been saved, were shown that rescue was possible. These rats then swam with purpose, waiting in hope for the moment the rescuer would come again. Richter, a behavioral scientist, observed in the laboratory what we followers of Jesus have known all along – hope is life-changing, purpose-giving and so much stronger than despair. Our God is a God of hope! And our hope isn’t one that remains internal. The hope our God offers, not only changes the life of the one who is rescued, but changes the lives of those who witness it too.
The women who went to do the final preparations for Jesus’ body locked away in the tomb arrived to find something quite astounding. The stone blocking the entry to the tomb was rolled away and whenthey peered in, Jesus was missing. Shocked, confused and dismayed they were then confronted by angels especially sent by God. The angels said, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; He has risen! Remember how He told you, while He was still with you in Galilee: “The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.” Be encouraged! Christ is risen! It is true! Our hope is actually more than hope because it is based on truth! See how the Lord God loves you – death has been defeated and you will rise just like Him and be with Him forever! Happy Easter!