I typed in “hope” on thesaurus.com, and these are a few of the synonyms offered: Ambition. Desire. Goal. Optimism. Wish. My guess is these words do seem similar or equivalent to “hope” for a lot of people—maybe even for you. Our language, in this day and age, makes use of the word “hope” in these different ways.
We say things like, “I hope I’m not late for work, again.” Or, “I hope my neighbor will cut his grass, finally.” Or, “I hope no one notices my socks don’t match.” Or, “I hope it doesn’t rain on my vacation.” Or, “I hope Pastor Meyer doesn’t preach too long, today.” Yet, with each of these examples, there is no certainty that the thing hoped for will happen.
There is no guarantee your commute to work will be traffic free. There’s no promise your neighbor will tend to his yard, no matter how often you shake your head at it. Rain happens. Pastor Meyer is…Pastor Meyer, so schedule accordingly. Oh, and we already noticed your socks! When hope is simply a wish, a goal, a desire—anything that is uncertain—then life can become hopeless.
In our reading from 1 Peter, this past Sunday, the Apostle writes, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…” (1 Peter 1:3) Imagine if Peter had used one of the above synonyms, instead:
- He has caused us to be born again to a living ambition through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…
- He has caused us to be born again to a living desire through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…
- He has caused us to be born again to a living goal through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…
- He has caused us to be born again to a living optimism through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…
- He has caused us to be born again to a living wish through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…
Suddenly, the passage loses a bit of its meaning and impact for us. Suddenly, the certainty of faith is left to chance for the Baptized. Suddenly, the confidence we claim as the redeemed children of God is replaced with mere, inconclusive potential. Suddenly, the assurance of eternal life accomplished for us in Jesus is no longer guaranteed, but, in fact, opens us up to works-righteousness, as we aspire and aim toward earning our treasures in heaven. Suddenly, there’s no more…hope; and our “living hope” becomes quite dead.
Fortunately for us, a Biblical view of “hope” is quite different from how we understand it, if not entirely antonymic to our supposed synonyms. The hope Peter is speaking of is unquestionable and certain, without a doubt; it’s a fact we can be sure of. Most often, in the ancient world, people had hope when there was a verbal contract or promise. An oath or a vow was enough of a guarantee for one to trust in. There was hope.
And now, for all who are in Christ Jesus, hope is not dead. Hope is alive—because Christ is risen!
“Peace be with you,” the resurrected Jesus said to the fearful disciples(John 20:19, 26). And so there was peace in that dark upper room, and with it the promise of peace for all. There is hope.
“If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven,” said the risen Lord (John 20:23). And so, with this promise, there is forgiveness. There is hope.
“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed,” said the living Christ (John 20:29). And in these words of promise, we, who are nearly 2,000 years removed from that upper room, are indeed blessed. There is hope.
Before ascending into heaven, in Jesus’ oath He swore to us, “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). And so, He IS with us. Through all of life’s troubles and trials, He is there, and there is hope. Whether stuck in traffic or stuck with a neighbor’s unkempt lawn, He is there, and there is hope. When health is failing, when money’s getting tight, when we disappoint our spouse or children, when we feel alone or afraid—whenever and wherever—He is there, and there is hope.
And, as the Word of God assures us, “If we have been united with Him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His” (Romans 6:5). Because of Christ’s victory, there IS hope—no doubt about it. Because Jesus lives, there IS hope—guaranteed. Because Christ is risen, there IS hope—and hope is alive!
Come soon, Lord Jesus. Amen.
Written By: Pastor Jonathan Meyer
Posted on Tue, April 25, 2017
by Stacy Yates