This article was written for the Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics, of which Hugh Whelchel is Senior Fellow & Founder.
On one of our family vacations, we stopped and visited a large underground cavern. Even though I was only eight or nine, I can clearly remember the guide leading us into a vast vault room. He said it was so large you could put an entire football field into it. Then he turned off all the lights, plunging us into total darkness. After waiting a few minutes, he struck a single match, and to my amazement, it lit the whole cavern.
Every time I read the discussion of light and darkness in the beginning of the book of John, I am reminded that the smallest light can overcome the greatest darkness. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5)
The ultimate example of this is seen in the Resurrection that we will celebrate on Easter morning. The greatest darkness was no match for God’s holy light reflected by his Son Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 1:3) This event was so important that the Apostle Paul tells us:
…if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless, and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if, in fact, the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. (1 Corinthians 15:14-17)
As we look back and celebrate this history-changing event, we must remember, as believers, our hope is in the resurrection because it is a historical fact. The Apostle Peter writes: “For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. (2 Peter 1:16) The Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians points to the many eyewitnesses to the resurrection. (1 Corinthians 15:5-8)
In the last half of 1 Corinthians 15, the Apostle Paul discusses our great hope in detail. Easter should remind us that we long for the second resurrection at Christ’s second coming. A time when our resurrection bodies will be raised, and we will live with Christ in a new heaven and a new earth forever!
With the rising of the Son of God on that Sunday morning over 2000 years ago, the promise of a new day was fulfilled. But thankfully, the story does not end there. Interestingly, Jesus in the twentieth chapter of the book of Revelation (over 60 years after his resurrection), calls himself “the Morning Star.” He could have used any of the familiar names throughout Scripture; instead, he used this unique description to trigger the hope and promise of a new dawn. As Bob Goudzwaard writes:
The morning star often appears between two and three at night, when the darkness is complete and the faintest sign of morning is not yet visible. So small that it threatens to vanish, the star seems unable to conquer the overpowering darkness. Yet when you see the morning star, you know that the night has been defeated. For the morning star pulls the morning in behind it, just as certainly as Jesus pulls the Kingdom in behind Him.
Randy Alcorn echoes this idea that the Morning Star represents hope and promise when he writes:
On a long dark night, the appearance of the morning star means daybreak is imminent. In the long dark night of suffering on earth, Jesus being seen as the morning star means the eternal morning is about to dawn. Hence, Christ as the morning star is a picture of great promise and hope.
Even the Apostle Peter speaks to the great hope the Morning Star signifies:
We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. (2 Peter 1:19)
In the last chapter of the book of Revelation, Jesus’ identification with the Morning Star underscores the promise of his return. The one who shattered the darkness of the empty tomb and brings life from death will return at the close of this age. Of this, he wants you to be certain.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ (Rev 21:3-5)
The painful darkness in which we labor will pass, yielding to the brilliant dawn and the second coming of the Son of God, who will make all things new. As one author writes:
The bright Morning Star heralds the return of the Lord Jesus, the Light of the World. By his identification with the bright Morning Star, the Lord wants us to know this certain hope—the Son and the dawn of eternal day are coming.
As the Apostle John alludes to, Jesus is “the light [that] shines in the darkness” (John 1:5). As another author writes:
That star reminded me that in the middle of that total darkness, our hope is not in men, not armies and chariots, but in the Words and Heart of God…This shining light is so precious…it’s the very incarnation of hope, of the coming day.
This Easter, let us rejoice over the empty tomb and embrace the hope of the Morning Star!