When hope dwindles – Advent 2022, Week 1, Part 2

Editor’s Note: This week I welcome guest blogger, Daymarr Jackson. In addition to his full-time day job, Daymarr is Faith Church’s youth leader, and a chaplain candidate in the PA Army National Guard. He is studying for his Master of Divinity at Evangelical Seminary (Kairos). He and his wife, Danielys, have two kids.

This first week of Advent 2022, we’re learning about hope through the ministry of John the Baptist in Matthew 3. Check out the first post here.

As we continue reading Matthew 3, in verses 11-12 John says about Jesus, “I am unworthy to carry his sandals.”  Here we have this guy who is showing up, who is entrusted with this message from God, preparing the way for the Messiah, leading the nation of Israel into repentance. That isn’t a light task, and yet John he says, “The one who is to come…I’m not even worthy to carry his sandals.” 

Sometimes as believers or Christians or people who are gifted, sometimes in church circles, we can have a self-righteousness and think, ”They need me. God needs me.  They need my gift here, what I bring to the table.”  We can look down on others, having a self-righteousness like the Pharisees and Sadducees.  But John has a humility that says, “I’m not even worthy to carry his sandals.”

But John’s humility would soon face a test. Before that test, though, John had a mountaintop moment. In Matthew 3, verses 13-17, we read that “Jesus came from Galilee to be baptized.”

John’s baptism had two purposes.  It prepared the nations for Christ, and it presented Christ to the nations.  The nation of Israel was in a state of waiting, they were hoping for the coming messiah.  John’s baptism of Jesus declares, “Here he is, this is him.” When John gets to baptize Jesus, he is on the mountaintop.

Later in his ministry, though, we see that John had doubt. He was in prison. The mountaintop felt like ancient history. So John sent his disciples to ask Jesus, “Is he the one?  Is he really the one?”  Jesus says, “Tell him…the deaf hear, the lame walk, and the blind see.” John’s disciples run back and tell John this.

Even though John was there to experience the affirmation of Jesus the Messiah, how did he have doubt after that?  Have you ever doubted? Has your hope ever dwindled in your Christian walk?  Have you experienced things that have hindered your hope, that have brought your hope into question?

Sometimes we can have great moments, great experiences with God, with Christ.  It feels like we are on a mountaintop, it feels like we are experiencing this high, where we feel so intimate with Christ, with our walk. But then life happens, and sometimes we find ourselves in a dark place, trapped, just like John when he was in a prison, questioning, “Is this really the one? Is he really the one to save us? I thought the Messiah was coming to bring in the kingdom, to free us from our oppressors and usher in the promises of God.”  But Jesus says, “Tell him the blind see, the deaf hear, the lame walk.” 

Jesus also continues the message of John.  In Matthew 4, verse 17, Jesus tells people to “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  He starts preaching the same thing, word for word, that John was telling them.  But this kingdom, the way that he is bringing about the kingdom, is not in a way that people would have expected. He is not challenging the Roman authorities; he is not building an army. He is not doing the things kings would do. He is hanging out with poor people, healing lepers, spending time with the woman at the well.  And some start asking, “Is this what we hoped for? Is this what we expected? We got excited, we started baptizing and repenting. But this is not what we thought the kingdom would be.”

This correlates directly to our lives. We have an expectation, a thought or idea of what we thought life would be like when we give our life to Christ. We hear about the abundant life, but sometimes life doesn’t feel abundant.  We hear about this Jesus who heals, but sometimes in life we go through times when we’re sick, and sometimes it feels like the sickness wins, or we see people battle with sickness and they die.  So where is our hope? 

I can make this personal for my own life because my mother right now is battling cancer. As the days go on, the hope for healing seems to dwindle.  But does that mean that God is not good. Does that mean that Jesus isn’t who he says he is? Does that mean that we shouldn’t have hope. Does that mean we should stop hoping?

In the next post, we’ll try to answer those very important questions.

Photo by LoboStudio Hamburg on Unsplash

Published by joelkime

I love my wife, Michelle, and our four kids and two daughters-in-law. I serve at Faith Church and love our church family. I teach a course online from time to time, and in my free time I love to read and exercise, especially running,

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