Hello, happy Easter to you. Today I’m talking about the subject of hope by reading from my own book, The Hope Habit. Christianity hinges upon the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. If he isn’t alive then our preaching is vain, our faith also is vain. That is why on the day of Pentecost, Saint Peter’s preaching centered on the resurrection of Jesus and in particular on one of King David’s prophetic songs. For David says of Jesus: “I saw the Lord always in my presence, for he is at my right hand so that I will not be shaken. Therefore, my heart was glad and my tongue exalted. Moreover, my flesh also will live in hope.” Moreover, my flesh also will live in hope. When Jesus died on the cross, he took the hope leap in the way none of us has ever had to do. He said, “You will not abandon my soul in Hades.” He says this to God, “Nor allow your Holy one to undergo decay. You have made me to know the ways of life. You will make me full of gladness with your presence.” King David was not the Holy One in this passage. He was prophetically speaking the words of Jesus as agonized before God on the cross. By that time, the Lord had already endured unimaginable suffering, starting in the Garden of Gethsemane, when the strain of all he was facing caused him to sweat drops of blood. Then the horrors then intensified when the Roman soldiers beat him, pierced his brow with a crown of thorns, lashed open the flesh on his back, and nailed his hands and feet to the cross upon which he hung. Yet he knew that even this was not the culmination of his passion, but only its beginning. He knew that soon he would surrender his body in death and then descend into the very belly of hell. This may strike you as strange doctrine. In Acts 2:26 Jesus said, “My soul, my flesh also will live in hope because he will not abandon my soul to Hades, nor allow your Holy One to undergo decay.” Even as he stared at the gaping jaws of death, Jesus hoped in the promise of God. We, too, need to hope in the promise of God. Jesus hoped in the promise of God. He put his life, his body, and his future in God’s hands, gave up the ghost and went to hell, taking all of our hopes with him. The hope that had been born with Abraham died with Jesus. But then it had to die. For if Abraham had to hope against hope, so Jesus had to hope against hell, because that was the only way for hope to rise immortal three days later. “After two millennia, there is one sign that keeps telling us that God has what it takes to make good on his promise,” says Lewis Smedes. “It is that baffling, but wondrous thing that happened. One early morning as the fingers of the day’s early light were filtering through the floor of a burial garden in Jerusalem, the thing that happened when the life birthing energy of the universe maker began to pulse inside the dead biological remains of the buried Jesus, whom God had apparently abandoned two days before. The cells regenerated themselves and he, body and soul, came back to life.” Any rational, skeptic will remind me that ancient rumors of a rabbi’s resurrection make a thin limb on which to hang the hopes of the world. Yes, I would admit it’s a thin limb, but sturdy enough for all, and to have held up a sign for all these ages that God the creator has the competence to renew the world that he’s made. This is our hope. The prophets were right. God’s word is true. Jesus died for our sins and was raised from the dead for our justification. The kingdoms of this world belonged to him. He reigns on high and will continue to reign until all his enemies, including death, have become his footstool. Then he will come. I love that. Then he will come. Death will die. We will live and the Prince of Peace will reign and we will reign with him forever. Here is the final thought. Jesus hoped. Jesus hoped in the promise of God. I encourage you to know that God’s Word for us a promise that he will fulfill. “‘I know the plans that I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘Plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.’” You’ve got a future. You’ve got a hope in spite of what’s going on in America right now. We’re going to make it. Receive this thought of the resurrection of Christ and the hope that animated the spirit of Jesus even as he died on the cross.
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