December 17, 2017, 9:00 AM
Paul told the Corinthians about three of the greatest things in the world – “Faith, Hope, and Love.” Those are the three things that “remain” – that “endure” – even after after prophecies pass away, even after speaking in tongues ceases, even after knowledge ceases, these are the three things that will “remain” that will “endure.”
I think we will agree that “Faith” and “Love” are pretty important. But what about “Hope?” That’s our Advent theme for this week. And it is an important word! Even Faith is defined in terms of Hope.” “Faith is The assurance of things hoped for…” (Hebrews 11:1)
Hope is part of Advent, because Hope is what we have because Jesus came into the world. Jesus gave Hope to the world. As I said last week, God didn’t make everything better in the world and then send Jesus. In fact, he didn’t fix everything when Jesus was here! Remember again the last words he said to his disciples in the Upper Room. “In the world you have tribulation. But be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world!”
That is hope. Jesus came to a troubled world. He came to a world with tribulation. But it was his coming that gave hope! If you have only the tribulation, and you see no end to it, you have no hope, you see? The ancient symbol the church used for Hope is the anchor! Hope is the light at the end of the tunnel that gives us something to go on, and not walk blindly in the dark. And, when we have no hope, when we don’t see that light, we despair.
Jesus brought hope to a troubled world. He gave that light at the end of the tunnel. If you remember the two travelers on the road to Emmaus, they were explaining things to Jesus – when they didn’t yet recognize him. They said “We had hoped he was the one to redeem Israel.” That hope was now gone. They were in a state of despair! And of course Jesus explained it all to them, and they saw that light again! They had hope!
Jesus is the Hope for the world! Sometimes people think there is no “hope for the world.” The world is too far gone. The darkness is complete. Can you imagine the various times in history when they might have thought that? The 20th century saw some of the worst times in history! Two World Wars, and scads of “lesser” ones. And don’t forget the “Cold War!”
But there were other times! In the 1300’s, the bubonic plague ravaged Europe. And then it happened two more times. It is said that many lost faith in God and in the Church in those dark days. Whole towns were devastated. In our world we have terrorism, and violence. Some would ask today, “Is there any “Hope for the World?”
Did you see the movie, “The Shawshank Redemption?” Do you remember how Andy talked of Hope, and how Red said, “Hope is a dangerous thing!” Yet at the end, the message was “Remember, Red, hope is a good thing. Maybe the best of things. And no good thing ever dies!”
Paul said “Faith, Hope, and Love remain.” And yes, Love is” the greatest of these.” But the others are still very important. And one is hope. It Hope is that feeling that our faith is not in vain!
Did you ever feel like, yes, you believe. You have faith, but still you’re not sure. You don’t know that it’s “working” all that well. It’s not meeting your needs. Maybe you feel like it might not ever work. Maybe that light at the end of the tunnel is very dim. At such times, hope is not there.
I have to tell you that I have had times in my own life where I had lost hope, or where I saw myself losing hope! And let me tell you, that’s worse than the hardships you might be going through! Without hope it seems like there is no end. It seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. It seems like the darkness is complete.
That’s why I love the words of John here. He uses those images of darkness and light.He tells us that the true light came into the world. “In him was life, and the life was the light of mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never conquered it.
Jesus is the Hope for the world.
Eternal God, we thank you that you sent Jesus to be the light in our darkened world. Help us to know the hope he brings, no matter what the circumstances of our lives. We thank you and we praise you in Jesus’ name, Amen.