JESUS OUR HOPE
I was returning home to the United States from Bangkok, Thailand, in May this year, after a successful stewardship convention for the Southern Asia Pacific Division. Yet on this long flight back to Washington DC, my heart was
aching. I had just lost my first
sibling, my brother, Enesi, to cancer. He lived in New Zealand and I was away when he died.
But somehow in my tired and heart-broken state, these words of Edward Mote
(1797-1874) in song came to me as a revelation of God’s grace: “My hope is
built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness; When darkness seems
to veil His face, I rest on His unchanging grace; When all around my soul gives
way, He then is all my hope and stay; On Christ the solid rock I stand; all
other ground is sinking sand.” In my Christian context, hope cannot be isolated
from Jesus Christ, and it cannot exist without His presence. Let me illustrate this thought by
reflecting on the experience of Jesus’ disciples on that Thursday night, the
night just prior to His death on the dark and gloomy Friday afternoon.
I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come”
IN THE MIDST OF HOPELESSNESS
living life without the presence of Jesus Christ. After He had washed and dried
their feet, and after they had shared bread together, Jesus spoke words of
assurance to His disciples. These
words cut like a razor into the very core of their being. “My children, I will
be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the
Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come” (John 13:33, NIV). For this group of young men, this
was a set back. For three years they had waitied with anticipation that He,
their leader, would establish a new world order that would rescue them from
Roman domination. This was an overwhelming disappointment.
How could He do
this to them? Where would they go now? To these and other questions spinning
around in their heads, Jesus responded, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.
You believe in God; believe also in me” (John 14:3, NIV). Jesus’ answer to His disciples’ sense
of hopelessness and loss brought them assurance of His eternal presence. In our
world today, where we’re constantly faced with all kinds of trials, challenges,
human disappointments, emptiness and hopelessness, Jesus is the answer. Jesus’s
presence brings encouragement, meaning, value, contentment, certainty, security
and hope. It is this Jesus who has the capacity to calm any of life’s storms,
bring comfort to the bereaved and hope to the forsaken and despised of society.
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace
I leave with you;
my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid”
IS PRESENT THROUGH HIS SPIRIT
human limitations to be physically present everywhere, Jesus introduced His
disciples to the concept of His omnipresence through the Holy Sprit. “And I
will ask the Father, and He will give you another advocate to help you and be with
you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept Him, because it
neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you and
will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (John
14:16-18, NIV). To the twelve disciples, these words of
their Master lifted their spirits from the depths of hopelessness to new
heights riding on His promise and personal assurance. So while He would not be
physically available for them, through His Sprit they could experience His
presence as a present reality. Today, God’s Spirit still fills the void in his
disciple’s empty and lonely hearts. God’s Spirit can turn the nights of
darkness into mornings of joy. This presence of Christ in us—through His
Spirit—gives us hope both in the here and now and also in the future.
PEACE IN THE PRESENT
recognize it or not, the disciples needed something permanent to satisfy their
yearning for companionship and community. And again, Jesus came to them with
these comforting words. “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father
will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of
everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I
do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and
do not be afraid” (John 14:26,27, NIV).
stewards, we know that only Jesus can satisfy the desires of our hearts and
breathe hope into our own questionings. More importantly, He expects us, as His
followers, to consistently live out this hope by sharing our hope in Him, with
everyone we meet.