Today’s passage: Luke 24:13-34
This weekend, we’re continuing our series looking at some of the “words of life” that are so important for us as followers of Jesus. Already, we have explored what grace is: God giving himself to us, even when we don’t deserve Him. And we’ve considered what exactly we mean when we talk of faith: putting our trust in God on the basis of who He is and what He has already done for us.
The word for this weekend flows naturally from faith. We put our faith in God is because we live in hopeful expectation of all of His promises coming true. Hope is what keeps our eyes set on the Kingdom of God coming; a kingdom where things are the way they should be. A kingdom where there is no sickness, sorrow or death. A kingdom where things are as God wants them to be – a place which is ideally suited for human thriving. And it is: we were made to live with God.
There are many people who are pessimistic about this world, thinking that it is on a downwards spiral. If this universe is merely an accident, without a Creator God, then it is by definition a closed system. And we know that closed systems are always prone to the law of entropy. Put simply – energy spreads out. A kettle’s worth of boiling water is hot; entropy’s result is like spreading that same water out over 1km² – there’s no risk of burning your hand in that case. In a closed universe; there will come a time when everything dies a slow, cold death. Everything dies. There is no future – only darkness. There is no hope.
On a smaller scale, such pessimism would simply say that everyone dies. Without purpose, without hope
But we don’t live in a closed system. We believe that there is a Creator God who exists beyond His creation. And this same God tells us that there is hope for humanity – and for this world. Romans 8 speaks of creation groaning in anticipation of the son’s of God being revealed. The reason things are so hopeless in this world is because we have rejected God – the source of hope.
But God has given us the hope of inheriting eternal life. By grace, he has made us right in His sight. (Titus 3:7). God has made some pretty amazing promises to us: that He would be our God, and that we would be His people – adopted into the family of God through faith – just like Abraham was. God has promised that there will come a day when he re-makes things perfect. He has promised that there will come a day when he remakes us. As 1 John 3:1-3 reminds us that, since we are God’s children, we have the hope of being like Jesus and seeing Him as He really is.
Like faith, hope isn’t a religious version of whistling against the wind. Hope has a foundation that rests on the character of God. As the writer to the Hebrews puts it in Hebrews 6:18-20, “So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. Jesus has already gone in there for us. He has become our eternal High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.”
But if our hope in God is an anchor, what do we do when hope seems to fail? How do we know if the things that we hope for are the right things?
As Cleopas and his companion (possibly the husband of one of the Marys at the cross, see John 19) false hopes, hopes that died, area bitter pill to swallow. But there is a hope that can be relied on. There is a person that can be relied on. There is a God, against whose promises not even death can hold sway. There is a God whose promises are worth putting our hope in.