A father called his son to him and told this story:
Once a man had three friends. The first one he loved very much, the second to a fair degree, but the third he often forgot and neglected. One day the king summoned the man to appear before him. He was alarmed at the unexpected call and looked about desperately for someone to accompany him.
He begged his best friend to come, but the man replied, “There is no way that I will go with you a single step.” He then pleaded with the second friend, who agreed to accompany him as far as the palace gate, but no further. Left with no alternative, he went to the third friend and made the same request. This friend, without hesitation, assured the man that he would go with him all the way and stand beside him before the king’s throne.
“Father, what has this story to do with me?” the son asked. The father replied, “It has everything to do with you, for the three friendships make up the framework of your life.
“The first friend is money, material wealth. He can be a good friend if he is treated wisely, but he has no loyalty and no morals. He will help you to do either good or evil. He will always be trying to gain control over you, and if he ever succeeds, he will make you his slave. He will leave you completely and finally at your deathbed.
“The second friend is a person who loves you. This is a much better friend to you than the first, but he, too, has limitations. This friend will go with you to the graveside but there he will leave you, as indeed he must, for you to continue your journey alone.
“The third friend is Jesus Christ, who will meet you at the grave, take your hand in His in the resurrection, and lead you into the palace of heaven if you will only let Him.
The Third Friend
“All these friends are important for they affect the quality of your life. But only the Third Friend has the power to affect your life forever.”
Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. (1 Corinthians 15.1-5)
Our Loving God
Because we have a loving God who always keeps His promises, Christians are sustained by what Paul calls “a blessed hope” (Titus 2.13). How sad it is that some live out their lives “without hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2.13).
Because we love God who loves us even more, our hope for eternal life is steadfast and unfaltering. The good news – the resurrection of Christ – confirms that hope as the vindication of a love that found its supreme expression on the cross. Because the Son of God loved us and gave Himself for us, we love Him in return, and that mutual love keeps our hope burning ever brighter until it is fulfilled in glory.
What the Resurrection Means for Us
To Paul, as indeed to all New Testament preachers, there was no message to preach unless the bodily resurrection of Jesus was an established fact – and this is equally true today. If we deny or discount the resurrection (through our words, our thoughts, or our actions), we are left only with a superior system of ethics. Though valuable, it is hardly worth dying for.
But Jesus’ resurrection has awesome implications for the one who accepts it. It means that Jesus of Nazareth was, in truth, the Son of God; that each of us will be raised from the dead; and that each of us will stand before a final judgment to be judged by the One who was first raised from the dead (Acts 17.31).
The resurrection is a fact. And it’s the whole basis for our continuing hope of heaven. It’s more than a hope that wishes; it’s a hope that trusts. Without it we have no hope whatsoever beyond this paltry earthly existence.
God’s love in raising Jesus from death so that we might be raised later to eternal life is overwhelming. It is by this gospel that we are saved (1 Corinthians 15.2).
When we realize that it is this simple good news of the resurrection that makes all the difference, all the noise and confusion of our daily lives and our “church work” seem so insignificant. When we put our emphasis on loving Christ and others, we respond to His phenomenal gift, and our “love always hopes.”
– Eldred Echols, The Most Excellent Way