What would you consider your greatest hope? Is it your ideal job? Could it be a particular level of education, maybe a Master’s degree or a Doctorate? Perhaps it is one you believe will be the perfect spouse? We would certainly be remiss if we didn’t consider hopes of a spiritual nature, after all, Hebrews 11:1 speaks of faith and hope as connected, ‘faith is the substance of things hoped for’. So now, what would you say your greatest hope is?
A group of men and women had tremendous hopes nearly 2000 years ago. It started with a Galilean carpenter turned rabbi who offered them hope regarding the oppressive rule of Rome in the diminutive region of Palestine. What great hope they must have had that He would deliver them from the occupation of Rome. This continued in spite of the unusually dark messages concerning His future. Following a night of tribunal’s before religious and government leaders their hope evaporated on a cross outside the city of Jerusalem. Their rabbi was dead and now two men, who had also believed in Him, retrieved His body and hastily prepared it for burial in a borrowed tomb. Despair now filled the hearts of these once hopeful disciples leading them to seek refuge and comfort with one another behind locked doors.
Yet, in the span of three short days their despair is replaced with renewed hope. The once occupied tomb is now empty as witnessed by several of His followers, and He has even appeared to those who knew He had died. Forty days of added time with disciples conclude with confusion as Jesus now ascends from Mount Olivet, but not before rebuking the Apostles for questioning the restoration of the kingdom to Israel.
Perhaps the message we ought to embrace as hopeful is the one relayed by the two men in white at Christ’s ascension and that is “This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11, NASU) Friends, we can have hope that Jesus is coming back and He is going to gather His faithful to be with Him always (1 Thessalonians 4:17) in a place He Himself went to prepare for us (John 14:3). If this is your hope, I encourage you to consider the words of the Apostle Paul in that as we “hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.” (Romans 8:25b) That is the best of all hopes, don’t you agree?
Copyright © 2014, Nolan P. Rutter