Jean-Paul Sartre was a French playwright, novelist, political activist, biographer, and literary critic. He was also one of the leading figures in 20th-century French philosophy and Marxism. Born in Paris in 1905, he would spend his entire life as a devout atheist. He would die in April 1980 at the age of seventy-five. Just weeks prior to his death, he began speaking these words over and over: “I know I shall die in hope.” But then with profound sadness, he would add, “But hope needs a foundation.”

Sartre lived his life as an exceptionally creative writer and philosopher. Yet with his seemingly infinite imagination, he could never believe in the biblical account of an afterlife. Perhaps his entire life was lived so that at the end he could declare one profound truth:

“hope needs a foundation.”

The Apostle Paul knew this all too well. He wrote to the church at Corinth, “Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?  But if there be no is resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen:  And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:12-14) In other words,

“hope needs a foundation.”

Can you imagine facing death with no hope of a life after? Woody Allen once said, “It’s not that I’m afraid to die, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” If Allen’s hope had a foundation, he would not mind being there when his time came.   

Where one spends eternity is directly related to the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Paul was aware of this which is why he wrote about it to the church at Corinth. He continues in vs. 16:

“For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!  19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.”

Here Paul is saying that if Jesus was not raised from the dead, then our sins were not forgiven and we have no hope beyond this life. But of course, Jesus died for our sins and He was raised from the dead on the third day. His resurrection is the foundation for our hope for eternal life. Why? Because …

“hope needs a foundation.”

What a shame that Jean-Paul Sartre discovered perhaps too late that his hope had been in his philosophy, the arts, writing, politics, and countless other interests. Although these offered a level of satisfaction for a time, they would all leave him unstable at best since they were not resting on a firm foundation.

Jesus once told a story that not only reveals Sartre’s problem, but the vast majority of mankind’s as well. It is from Matthew 7 verse 24 and following:

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

Hope needs a foundation!

The foundation of Christianity is the gospel of Jesus Christ. It tells how the Son of God left His throne in heaven, came to earth and was born of a virgin. He would live a sinless life, was beaten and then crucified on a cross. There He died, was placed in a tomb where He was until the third day when He rose from the dead. A few days later, He would ascend back into heaven where He now makes intercession on our behalf to His Father.

This is the only foundation that will suffice for mankind to provide the unshakable hope needed to usher us confidently into His presence. But the bedrock of this foundation is the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ!