Expectations & Hopes Meditations: 37. Recap Expectations 4
So we draw near to the end and therefore we need to recap where we have been and what we have seen since the previous Recap.
Source of Realism: This last group has been focusing on Jesus and what he has achieved for us and we started by declaring that it is only when we come to the Son of God that we find truly realistic expectations of the future. Only in Jesus do we see a clarity of purpose and direction and clear knowledge of where it was all leading. Jesus came to die in our place for our sins and it was clear that he knew exactly what was to happen as he shared it a number of times with his disciples. Everything about my future, we said, hinges on this. Our futures are assured; all my expectations of the future are ‘in Christ’ and they are good expectations, they are what we call Christian hope.
The Peace Bringer: We also saw Jesus coming as the servant of God, fulfilling all the Old Testament prophetic words about him, and becoming the source of hope for all who would yearn for justice and peace who “put their hope in him”. We noted the claim of an historian, that the history of the world is the history of wars, or of human upheavals, and it is that sad truth, a realistic truth, which leads us to yearn for peace and harmony in the world. Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would be the one to bring it and he comes to bring peace within us, peace between us and God, and peace between each other, here and now. This is the hope, the sure expectancy, that you and I read about in Matthew and Isaiah, that Jesus has come to bring us, a hope of justice and fairness and of love and peace.
The Resurrection: We went on to see that Jesus is always to be the one we follow, the one we copy, and this is as much true about expectations as it is about anything else. It was the apostle Peter on the Day of Pentecost, using David’s words from Psa 16:8-11 who declared “my body also will live in hope,” in the context of resurrection. Jesus clearly knew that he would be resurrected, and the picture of resurrection conveys important truths in two ways, the first in respect of the life we now live and, second, the fact of our bodily resurrection. These, we saw, are both the hope (expectation) that we have today.
Facing the Impossible: Perhaps expanding on the resurrection realities, we picked up in Paul’s teaching the fact that not only did, “Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness,” but it was: “Against all hope”, and we recognized that sometimes we are confronted by ‘impossibilities’ and we cry out to God. That’s how it was when we came to be saved, and that’s how it so often is in our Christian lives. But “Abraham in hope believed.” His belief was in something happening in the future, in God doing what He had said He would do, and when we came to Christ that is what we do, we trust God that He is going to change me, change my life, change my future. We believe against hope, but in hope we believe, and that is how we get saved.
Present and Future Hopes: But then we went on to recognise that because hope is a future thing, even in accordance with the ‘groaning world’ that yearns for something better as the children of God are revealed, so we too yearn for a better future, for more of what God has got for us. We’ve already received part of the package but there is more to come and that is a real, valid and essential expectation we should all hold on to. That is about life after death where we are promised new spiritual bodies, but it is also about us growing and maturing and entering more and more into all that God has for us this side of death.
Growth through Hope: But then we saw something strange, that having a genuine future hope generates faith and love for life today. Our thinking is changed – tomorrow WILL be different and so tomorrow CAN be different. Now we do have an eternal future; there is a life after this, but we also, of course, have the years to live out and we have a part to play in that; it is not automatic.
Confident Expectations: Then we went right back to basics. All our hopes, as we’ve said before are based on Jesus, on his life, death and resurrection. It is those things that give us confidence to believe the things the Gospel promises us – justification, adoption, and power – freedom FROM guilt and shame TO love and goodness, living in the love of the Father, knowing the power of His Holy Spirit’s presence. All these things have become confident expectations for every day.
It’s all God: Again, to continue and finish with the basics, we observed that the Gospel is God-originated and God-directed so that we can come back into a living relationship with Him, and we said that the way we live out that relationship today is all about faith, because it is about how we respond to His word in the way we live now. However, the fact that we are constantly looking forward to tomorrow means we are living in hope, with the expectations His word generates in our hearts and minds. We concluded that ‘hope’ is thus a very real factor in our lives. It encourages us in today and energizes and motivates us towards tomorrow. The origins of our hope lie in the fact that we have been justified, adopted and empowered (and all that by the work of Jesus) and the content of our hope for tomorrow is that our understanding and experience of these three things will deepen and enlarge and will continue to carry us through the years until we pass off this present existence and are carried into eternity where it will just get better and better. That, I believe, will be a good place to conclude these studies.
Recap: So let’s recap these thing:
- Jesus is the source of all our expectations.
- A real part of those expectations is that he is the bringer of peace to our lives.
- Even as he was resurrected so we view our present lives as resurrected by his power and eventually that will mean new resurrected spiritual bodies after we ‘die’.
- The fact of that resurrection power being ours today, challenges the ‘impossibilities’ that we face in life and they are no longer.
- The realities of this hope mean, not only hope for after we die, but new hope for the lives we live today, a yearning for something better this side of death as well as after it.
- The genuine hope of eternity adds a new dimension to our thinking about today and it makes sense of it and adds purpose to it so that faith and love are generated in our relationship with the Lord.
- Because of Jesus, and especially his resurrection, that confidence is in respect of our justification, our adoption and our empowering, life every day.
- All of the work of Jesus is God-originated and aimed at bringing us back to God. How we experience that in the years ahead and the eternity to follow is what our hope is all about.
- We live out today by faith, but it is our hope for tomorrow that establishes and confirms and reassures that faith.
So there it is. We conclude our series with high expectations of tomorrow, both the tomorrow that comprises each and every day we have on this planet as we experience the fruits of our justification, adoption and empowering in this life, and then the wonder of the eternal existence that follows. All this is available because of what Jesus has achieved for us on the Cross, so let us finish with giving him thanks and praise and worship for all that. Amen!