Last week I did a search on our local website, as I was looking for the word “hope” in the news. You know what I discovered? Hope is a very flexible word, used many ways for many situations. Here are a few of the recent headlines. Maybe you remember some of them!
First, here are a couple articles where something was done that brought change:
- “Sewing Hope in Sierra Leone” – April 16 – It was about a local ministry that makes “pillowcase” dresses for girls in need. So cool!
- “Trump’s bid to help Chinese firm draws fire but raises hopes” – May 14 – I didn’t take the time to learn all about this situation but the news report thought it would raise hopes.
Then there is the most common use of hope. Aspirations for the future!
- “76ers hope to keep thwarting history in Game 5 vs Celtics” – May 8 …those hopes were not realized, sadly for all you 76ers fans, and happily for all you Celtics fans.
- “Billboards warning against prescription painkillers hopefully will combat opioid addiction in Lancaster County” – May 8 …they hope billboards will combat opioid addiction? How do you think that will work out?
- “US hopes North Korea will become close partner, Pompeo says” – May 12
In our lives we experience lots of these hopes and dreams. What hopes do you have? What do you hope will happen?
So often we talk about hope as something that we want to happen, but we have no idea if it will actually happen. We use the word “hope” a lot in our conversation. “I hope my team wins!” “I hope I get an iPhone for Christmas.” I hope…I hope…I hope for a lot of things. We call that wishful thinking.
Wishful thinking is fun, but it can’t sustain us at the point of our need. And wishful thinking is not the hope Peter is talking about, as we continue looking at 1 Peter 1:3-5.
As we saw yesterday, when, by God’s great mercy, you have been born again, you have a living hope. For those who are going through a difficult time in this world, you who are born again have a living hope that matters right now. You have a living hope that shapes you right now. It’s not something that you are just waiting for one day. It is living. It is active right now. This hope we have impacts us now, helping us to the have the proper perspective of what we are going through. It means that no matter how difficult it is now, you don’t have to turn away from God, you don’t have to give up, because you have a living hope.
And what is the foundation of that hope? How can we prove that hope to be true?
To answers those questions, Peter takes us back in time 30 years or so. In your Bible, turn to to John 19. Remember that scene when Jesus is arrested and talking with Pilate? It is wild. Look back in chapter 18 quickly, and you’ll see that Jesus had already stood trial before Pilate earlier that day. Pilate found no reason to convict Jesus, and sent him away. Now he’s back. You get the sense that Pilate is just done with this whole thing. I imagine a look on Pilate’s face, and a tone in his words, and they are saying, “Are you serious? I have to deal with this ridiculous situation? A guy who is clearly innocent, but these Jews want dead? Geesh.”
Now in the beginning of chapter 19, he has Jesus flogged, hoping that will get these bloodthirsty Jews off his case. He is very wrong.
You see what is going on here? Pilate is saying, “Jesus, come on, man. I know you aren’t guilty. Why are you doing this? Don’t you know that I have the power to kill you?” When Pilate says that very thing, he reveals what is in his heart. Pilate knows the normal power structure of the world. The threat of death. Whoever has the power to kill others holds total control. That is the normal way of the world. We see this every day in the news. It’s why the threat of nuclear war around the world is so serious.
But three days later, something astounding would happen to that power structure. Jesus, who Pilate did crucify, that same Jesus, would defeat death. “Death where is your victory?”, the apostle Paul would say in 1 Corinthians 15. Death has been swallowed up in the victorious resurrection of Jesus!
And that, Peter reminds us, is the basis of our living hope. Jesus defeated death, and when we are born again, when we believe in him and give our lives to be his disciples, we have a living hope that one day we, too, will experience resurrection. The power of death has no hold on us anymore. The power structure of death has been overturned. Jesus’ resurrection is the new reality we live with. Thus we have a living hope in the future that impacts us now. But how? More on that tomorrow!