On Sunday afternoon, welcome news came from 10 Downing Street: Boris was back. The Monday papers were full of our Prime Minister’s video praising the NHS nurses who had cared for him in hospital.
Some spotted a certain coincidence in the video’s timing. Boris announced his comeback on Easter Sunday, when Christians remember the greatest comeback of all time: the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
There are striking similarities in the comebacks and distinctive differences.
Suffering with us
We like leaders we can identify with. Boris moved from leading the nation’s battle against Covid-19 to his personal fight for life. He experienced the suffering. In Jesus, we don’t find a God who is remote from human suffering, but one who experienced it. He truly sympathises. But, he didn’t just experience suffering. He also chose the path of suffering for love for his people.
“Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God.” (1 Peter 3:18)
Suffering for us
In his Easter Sunday comments, Boris described the coronavirus as an “enemy we still don’t entirely understand.” The same is true about the enemy that Jesus Christ battled – our sin. Human beings don’t realise how serious it is.
We think of sin as either committed by very bad people, or something a bit naughty. But it’s much more than that. It is lawlessness: living in a way which breaks the two great commands. What are they? To love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and our neighbour as ourself.
Jesus understands how serious our sin is. It separates us from a loving God. It means we stand condemned. That’s why Jesus came not merely to suffer with us but to suffer for us. Christians have described the day Jesus died as Good Friday. Why good? Because, on it, Jesus died as a substitute, taking the full punishment for the sins of those who trust in him.
Back from the dead
Boris Johnson told of 48 hours in an ICU when he was struggling to get enough oxygen in his lungs. He was frank: “things could have gone either way.” We thank God that he came back from the brink of death. Now convalescing at Chequers, friends and colleagues are urging our Prime Minister to take his time recovering. They fear a relapse.
Some claim that Jesus did not really die on the cross; that he merely swooned and was mistaken for dead. But this does not fit the facts. Jesus wasn’t rushed to a modern ICU; he was left in a tomb. A scourged, dehydrated, crucified man would never have survived.
The eyewitnesses record something very different. Jesus’ followers, who saw him three days after his death, did not encounter a weak man beginning his recovery. They met, touched, spoke to and ate with a man bursting with new life.
Our Prime Minister heaped praise upon the NHS for the care he received. “It is unconquerable”, he said, “it is powered by love.” Unfortunately, however loving dedicated health professionals are, they aren’t invincible. They save as many as they can from Covid-19, cancers and other diseases. But ultimately each one of us will die.
But the power of Christ’s love conquers the great enemy: death. Christians often choose to bury their dead because they are looking forward to a great hope – resurrection.
This is not a vague hope. It is rooted in the historic event of Jesus’ own resurrection. The Christian’s joy at Easter begins with this: my sin is buried in the grave with Christ. Trusting in the one who took my punishment, I no longer stand condemned before God. Therefore, I am looking forward to being given a new body like Christ’s perfect new body and to an eternity with him in a perfect new heavens and new earth.
This certain hope is freely available. Jesus described it like this:
“This is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:40)
If you are wondering whether there are reliable eyewitness records, why not read one of the four gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke or John? Or pick up Can we trust the gospels, a short straightforward book by Cambridge scholar, Peter Williams.
If you have any questions or would like to know more please contact us.