Published November 23, 2006
1 Peter 1:3-13, 18-21
Related Sunday School Lesson, Bible Studies for Life, Dec. 10
Only after we truly face up to Christmas without Santa can we as adults begin to grapple with what Christmas is all about ... God’s gift of ultimate hope that our human destiny is something more than a brief doomed moment in … the universe” (Jerry Shin, Charlotte Observer Dec. 22, 1986).
Do you remember leafing through the “wish book” as a child before Christmas? My first wish book was the Sears catalogue. I knew that many items in the book would never show up in my house, but it was fun wishing.
Wishing is fun, but hope is a necessity. Without hope people have no means to cope with their past. Without hope people fail to plan for the future. Without hope people waste the present day. Without hope people die.
When wishing takes the place of hope, the life God intended for us is at stake. We studied faith, the first gift of the season, last week and today we study hope.
The hope I refer to is threefold: hope for forgiveness from the past, hope for direction for today, and hope for a home tomorrow. Without forgiveness I am paralyzed in my past. Without direction I spin my wheels with no purpose.
Without the promise of an eternal home I have nothing for which to live and nothing for which to die. Examine this hope with me.
The Foundation of Hope
“He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
1 Peter 1:3 (HCSB)
The scripture reveals that the foundation of our hope is the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is the good news of Christmas. One thing all people have in common is the feeling of guilt and the subsequent need for forgiveness. How do you deal with that need?
Many in our world try to handle the forgiveness issue by balancing the scales. They believe if they do enough good it will cancel the bad. Imagine the frustration of answering the question, “How good is good enough?”
The answer lies in the foundation of our hope. God sent His son, Jesus Christ, to pay for our sins through His death. His death was sufficient, or good enough, because He was the perfect sinless sacrifice. His resurrection from the dead proves that He is more powerful than sin and death.
Years ago Edward Mote wrote, “Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” To claim that hope, an individual must believe in the resurrection, ask God for forgiveness, and place their hope in his hands.
The Perspective of Hope
“You rejoice in this, though now for a short time you have had to be distressed by various trials.”
1 Peter 1:6 (HCSB)
When Jesus said, “I make all things new” he meant all things and this includes our perspective on life. Hope gives us new eyes. Solomon needed new eyes when he said, “Everything is meaningless.” As a wealthy person Solomon’s prosperity perspective turned paltry. As a thrill seeker his pleasure perspective turned painful. As a king his royal perspective turned to rags.
Eyes of hope catch a new vision and perspective. Hope sees forgiveness from the past. Hope sees direction for the day. Hope sees a home for tomorrow. Jesus asked the man at the pool of Bethsaida, “Do you want to get well?” It was an offer of forgiveness. Jesus said to the woman at the well, “If you knew the gift of God, and who is saying to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would ask Him, and He would give you living water.” This was an offer of direction. Jesus told the disciples, “In my Father’s house are many rooms.” Jesus offers an eternal home. This new perspective brings hope to the believer dealing with the challenges of our world.
The Fulfillment of Hope
“Angels desire to look into these things.”
1 Peter 1:12 (HCSB)
Our hope is not to be taken lightly. Prophets spent precious time investigating events that they would not get to witness firsthand. Preachers spent precious time speaking of these events directed by the Holy Spirit Himself. Even the angels were amazed as they “looked into” these matters. The phrase “looked into” is the same phrase used of Mary when she stooped and looked intently into the empty tomb.
It is amazing that such great hope is often ignored or trivialized today. We have the same amount of time as the prophets and the preachers. We live in a world starved for hope. Still we make light of the divine message of hope, spending our time “stooping” to listen to gossip or “looking into” matters of trivia.
In Jesus, our hope is fulfilled and the wise one would spend significant time “looking into” the life of the one who fulfills our hope.
The Life of Hope
“Therefore, get your minds ready for action.”
1 Peter 1:13 (HCSB)
Hope is great and her call is clear. This great hope calls for self-discipline, obedience, and action. A life of hope is a self-disciplined life lived for things with eternal value. A life of hope trusts the foundation of our hope through a life of obedience. A life of hope is actively engaged in sharing this hope with the hopeless.
Christian hope is not passive. The hopeful Christian is actively engaged in life. This life is lived in partnership with the One who gives hope. Jesus is the foundation and fulfillment of our hope. Through Jesus we have a life of hope and a fresh hopeful perspective.
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