Jesus is our hope!

Our title today is Jesus is our hope! The theme is hope because the message of Easter is a message of hope and because Jesus is all about bringing hope to people. This is clear from when Jesus walked the earth. Here are some examples from the gospels:

  • Jesus gave hope to the sick. Mark 1:40-42 tells the story of a man with leprosy. He came to Jesus and asked for healing. He said, “If you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus was moved with compassion – and healed the man immediately. He was set free from a condition that had ruined his life. And now he was able to move forward and live again.
  • Jesus gave hope to those who had sinned. In Luke 7:36-50 a woman, most likely a prostitute, came to Jesus in tears and anointed his feet as an expression of devotion and as a response to his message of repentance. Jesus said to her “your sins are forgiven.” Her repentance was accepted. She was forgiven and she was given a chance for a new life; a fresh start.
  • Jesus gave hope to those who were enslaved by evil powers. Mark 1:23-26 tells of how a demonized man was set free by Jesus. He simply said, “Come out of him” and the demon had to leave. This man was miserable and enslaved, but Jesus set him free and now he had new life.
  • Jesus gave hope to those who were excluded. Luke 5:27-32 tells how Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners. Those not acceptable to the rest of society. Instead of being outcasts, now they were befriended by Jesus and given another chance.
  • Jesus gave hope to those who were confused. Mark 6:34 says, “Jesus saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things. Those who were lost and needed guidance learned from the good Shepherd himself, the paths of righteousness and peace.
  • Jesus gave hope to those who needed new purpose in their lives. Matthew 9:9 recounts how Jesus called Matthew out of a dead-end situation in life, a tax collector for the very empire that was oppressing his people. Jesus said to him “follow me.” that is, come and work with me. And he did. Matthew found a new life focus that was full of meaning and true significance.
  • Jesus gave hope to those who needed God to be near. God worked through Jesus by the power of the Spirit. God’s presence was real to people when Jesus was around. In Luke 7:16, after Jesus raised a young man from the dead, the crowds said, “God has visited his people!” Those who felt far away, even abandoned by God, were brought close, as the Spirit worked through Jesus.

So in all of these examples we see people who were suffering, miserable, confused, disillusioned; who were despairing. And Jesus gave these very ones hope.

But the world we live in doesn’t like the hope Jesus gives. It tells us to chase after false hopes that are empty and useless. And if we do hope in Jesus, it seeks to crush this.

In Jesus’ own day, the guardians of the way things are – the authorities and the powers of evil caught up to Jesus. And they killed him. As the two men on the road to Emmaus said, “we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21). Jesus gave them hope, but now their hopes were dashed.

But guess what? Jesus didn’t stay dead! Amen? The “powers that be” thought they had extinguished our hope; they thought they had extinguished Jesus. But they failed! And oh how they failed. As the angel said to those who looked for Jesus’ dead body, “He has risen; he is not here” (Mark 16:6).

Jesus lives! And so our hope lives. For since Jesus is still alive, he is ever with us, to continue to help us. And so I ask . . .

  • Do you suffer sickness? Are you in need of healing? The same Jesus who healed a leper and so many others, still lives to heal us and help us in our suffering. And when the Father says it’s time, Jesus will give us a new resurrection body that will live forever without pain or suffering. We too have hope for healing and the redemption of our bodies.  Jesus is our hope!
  • Do you feel guilt and shame for sin you have committed? The same Jesus who forgave sins and who laid down his life on the cross for the forgiveness of sins,  still lives to forgive us when we turn to him in repentance. We too have the hope of forgiveness. Our guilt and shame can be taken away. We can have a new, clean, fresh start. Jesus is our hope!
  • Are you enslaved by powerful evil forces; unable to break free from sinful habits? The same Jesus who cast out demons with a word, still lives to deliver us from the evil one. We too have hope of freedom and new life from the powers of evil that seek to enslave and destroy us. Jesus is our hope!
  • Do you feel excluded, alienated, left out? The same Jesus who welcomed any and all who would follow him, still lives to befriend us. We too have hope of connection with Jesus; of acceptance by him; of relationship with him – and his people. Jesus is our hope!
  • Do you need guidance in your life? Are you confused about God’s will? The same Jesus who taught the crowds of old, still lives and makes known to us his teaching. We too have hope that we can know God’s way and that we can learn, from the good shepherd himself, the paths of peace. Jesus is our hope!
  • Do you feel adrift in your life; without a purposeThe same Jesus who gave Matthew new direction, still lives to call us from our dead ends and our wrong turns – to come and follow him and to finish what he began. We too have hope for a meaningful and significant life doing what God has called us to do and what God has gifted us to do. Jesus is our hope!
  • Do you feel separated from God; that God is far awayThe same Jesus who made God present to the people of old by the Spirit, still lives and he pours out this same Holy Spirit into our hearts and lives so that God lives in us. We too have hope of knowing and being near to God; to have a relationship with God; to have God come and live within us by the Spirit. Jesus is our hope!

Indeed, no matter what problem or circumstance we find ourselves in, because he lives Jesus gives us hope. A hope that cannot be crushed, but that sustains through all of life.

Living like we actually believe Jesus is alive

Luke 23:54-24:7

After Jesus’ crucifixion and burial –

The disciples acted as if Jesus was dead and gone

This is what they believed, and you can tell what they really believed by their actions:

  • The eleven were overcome by fear – John 20:19. In fact, they were huddled together behind locked doors for fear of the authorities. Jesus was dead, and they were afraid they might be next.
  • The two disciples on the Emmaus road were despairing – Luke 24:21. They said, “We had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.” But now, here Jesus is dead.
  • The women (from our own text) had given up – Luke 24:1. They went to the tomb in order to treat Jesus’ body with spices and ointments they had prepared. It’s what you do when someone’s dead.

All of these believed that Jesus was dead and gone, and they acted accordingly.

But Jesus is alive!

Picking up again with our text, first the women found the tomb was empty – vs. 3-4. But, since this didn’t fit their belief “they were perplexed” – v. 4. And then they heard the message of the angels, who told the women two crucial things. And I want us to get this.

1. You need to remember what Jesus said. Luke 24:6-7 – “Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” He said he would rise from the dead

And even deeper than this, 2. You need to understand who Jesus is. Luke 24:5-6 – “Why do you seek the Living One among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.” Jesus is the Living One. Why would he be found in a tomb? That’s not who Jesus is!

No, Jesus isn’t dead, as you think and as you are living. Rather –

Jesus lives, and they should live based on this truth

  • So, the eleven don’t have to huddle in fear, they can go forth with courage and serve God boldly
  • The two disciples on the Emmaus road can have hope for the salvation of God
  • The women don’t have to give up and move on. They can press on in their service to Jesus

That’s the difference it makes to truly realize that Jesus is alive and to live like this is so.  And as we know from the scriptures – Jesus’ disciples were transformed by this realization from despair to new life.

Well, you know what?

We often act as if Jesus is dead and gone

Oh, we say Jesus is alive. But just as with the disciples our actions (our attitudes and outlook) often betray a different belief.  We act as if Jesus is unable to hear us, unable to respond to us, unable to help us; as if he’s as good as dead.

Like the disciples –

  • We too are overcome by fear, hiding away under the weight of our struggles in life and serving God
  • We too become despairing, thinking our situation is impossible
  • We too give up in the face of our difficulties

But, sisters and brothers, the truth is that Jesus is alive!

We need to hear the twofold message of the angles, just as the women did 2,000 years ago. 1. We need to remember that what Jesus said happened. Jesus was raised. He told his disciples ahead of time and they witness to us of this truth.

  • Peter said, “This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.” – Acts 2:32
  • Peter also said, “You killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses.” – Acts 3:15
  • Again Peter said, “The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things . . .” – Acts 5:30-32
  • Peter preached, “They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses” – Acts 10:39-41
  • Paul preached, “And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took Jesus down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead, and for many days he appeared to those who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people.” – Acts 13:29-31
  • Paul said, Jesus “was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead. . .” – Romans 1:4
  • Paul wrote, “Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father” – Romans 6:4
  • Paul delivered to his hearers that Jesus “was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas (or Peter), then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.” – 1 Corinthians 15:4-8
  • Paul taught that “God raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named” – Ephesians 1:20-21

 What Jesus said has indeed happened!!!

And even deeper than this, as the angels told the women, 2. We need to understand who Jesus is. He is “The Living One”; this is his very identity.

  •  Jesus said about himself, “I am the resurrection and the life” – John 11:25
  • Jesus states “just as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself” – John 5:26
  • Jesus calls himself “the first and the last and the living One” – Revelation 1:17-18
  • Jesus said, “I was dead, and see, I am alive forevermore; and I have the keys to death and Hades” – Revelation 1:18
  • Jesus is called the “Author of life” in Acts 3:15
  • “The word of life” in 1 John 1:11
  • John 1:4 says, “what has come into being in him is life”  (NRSV)
  • Hebrews 7:16 says that Jesus had “the power of an indestructible life”
  • And because of this as Acts 2:24 testifies, “it was impossible for Jesus to be held by the power of death.”

This is who Jesus is. Jesus is life! He cannot, not live! This is the very identity of Jesus. And we need to remember this.

Jesus lives, and we should live based on this truth

  • So, we don’t need to be overwhelmed by our fears. We can have courage to move forward in life as we serve God.
  • We don’t need to despair. We can have hope for the salvation of God in our lives.
  • We don’t need to give up. We can press on when things get difficult

Why? Because Jesus is alive and he can hear us and respond to us and walk with us. So let’s live our lives based on this truth and move forward with boldness and faith in our lives and in our service to God.