Posted by: coran stewart | July 26, 2008

HOPE(LESS)?

From Luke 24:

13Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles[a] from Jerusalem. 14They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16but they were kept from recognizing him. 17He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast. 18One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19“What things?” he asked. “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.”

Look at that phrase in verse 21 “but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.”  Like all Israelites struggling under Roman rule and conscious of their history of oppression, these travelers longed for the day when they would see the redemption of their people.  They had probably seen countless men claiming to be the Messiah who fought against the Empire, often with force, yet, every time, these rebellions were put down.  Maybe these travelers put their hope in Jesus because he offered something different.  Certainly he proclaimed the coming of the kingdom, but it was not coming violently.   No, this kingdom was coming on the heels of the forgiveness of sin and the proclamation of justice.  This man, this Jesus, he offered something different, something one could hope in.  Imagine the most excited you have ever been and multiply that by a 100.  Maybe that will give you a small idea of a fraction of the excitement these travelers might have had in their hope in Israel’s imminent redemption.  Now imagine all of that excitement completely deflated.  Jesus, the hope of Israel to these men, had been crucified, killed by the Empire just like all the other Messiah wanna-bes.  What was there to do but to despair?

But it doesn’t end there.  Look at the response of Jesus:

25He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26Did not the Christ[b] have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. 28As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. 29But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. 30When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

You see, Jesus tells the story differently.  How often do we see our hopes deflated? “We had hoped he would get the job.” “We had hoped it wasn’t cancer.” “We had hoped the marriage was salvageable.” “We had hoped rehab would work this time.”  These things play out in our lives over and over again.   So, what do we do?  Well, we have to listen to Jesus and how he tells the story.  We have to understand that suffering is a part of our life.  We are never promised an easy life.  However, we are promised victory over suffering because of Christ’s ultimate victory over death.  As Christians we live in a paradox knowing that we experience suffering but also that we have victory over it through Christ.  This is what we must remember in those “we had hoped” moments.

I mention all of this because every day I am in the day shelter I think about all the hopes in that place that must of fallen through.  How on earth can I minster to these people and be an encouragement to them when I can’t understand all that they have gone through.  In this I rest my hope, that Jesus Christ understands our broken hopes and suffers with us.  He also brings us the victory.  I know that, because of Christ in me, I can point to this.  When you are in the midst of despair and hopelessness, I pray you will always remember to listen to Jesus’ telling of the story.  When we are on that road to Emmaus, may we believe and know we don’t have to be hopeless.

Coran

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Responses

  1. Thanks for the encouraging story of hope! May each of us be available and offer hope to others through
    Christ, who is our ultimate Hope! Incredible insight!

    Carol
    Friend of Jeff St.

  2. Thanks for the reminder – God is truly working!

  3. AMEN !!!!!!!! Surely the Lord has spoken to me through your message. Even Christians who know the story need to be reminded from time to time. Thank you and God bless.


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