“Human beings are hope-shaped creatures. How you live today is completely shaped by what you believe about your future.”

Hope is powerful! We are hardwired for hope. The absence of hope crushes humans.

In Ken Burns documentary on World War II it said that 16,000 Philippine and U.S. troops died in “Camp O’Donnell” — a Japanese P.O.W. camp in the Philippines. The narrator listed the causes of death: Dehydration, malnutrition, Malaria, beriberi, scurvy, dysentery… and hopelessness.

At the close of World War II military leaders were puzzled at the reports of men who were found dead in foxholes with no apparent cause of death. They concluded that these men had died because they had lost all hope of ever seeing their loved ones again.

If we’re going to talk about hope we need to start with a working definition.

Before we define what hope is, it’s helpful to know what hope isn’t.

Real hope isn’t: a dream, a wish, a distant expectation, or a longing for something better.

Real hope is: an object and an expectation.

We hope in something — and we are asking that something to deliver.

In the Gospel of Luke we have the record of two men whose hopes were utterly crushed.

Luke 24:13-21 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. 18Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 21But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened.

These guys had PLENTY of reason for their hopes being dashed. They had made Jesus of Nazareth their one hope in life.

And why not hope in Jesus? They had plenty of cause to make Jesus the object of their hope!

  • They had seen Him turn water into wine.
  • They had seen him heal the sick, make the lame walk and give sight to the blind.
  • They had seen the very forces of nature obey His commands.
  • They had seen Jesus exercise complete authority over demons.
  • They had seen Jesus feed multitudes with just a few loaves and a few fish.
  • They even saw Jesus raise a boy, a little girl and a grown man from the dead.

And for all of His power, they saw Jesus be merciful to sinners, and be loving and patient with their own failures.

And to top it off, just seven days earlier they saw the people of Jerusalem praise Him and hail Him as the promised Messiah of Israel — all in the face of hostile opposition from the religious power base of Israel.

Without a doubt, Jesus was THE ONE to hang ALL of their hopes on!

But in a matter of a few short days those apparently well-placed hopes came crashing down.

There was a strange meal late that week that they shared with Jesus. At the table He told them that He was going away! Even though He told them He would send them a comforter, and that they knew where He was going, they couldn’t understand WHY He would go away.

Later that night, when they went with Him on to the Mt. Of Olives, they were terrified when a MOB, led by one of their friends, came and took Jesus by force.

They were all so freaked out and disillusioned that they scattered and hid for fear of their own arrest.

In the dark of night the One they so hoped in was treated worse than a criminal by Jewish and Roman authorities.

The next morning there was the noise of a mob, screaming for the blood of Jesus. “Crucify Him!” echoed through the streets of Jerusalem.

Then the Roman procurator, Pontius Pilate, brought Jesus before the mob, beaten beyond recognition, and said, “Behold your king!”

Surely, this was a nightmare… Surely they would wake up any minute to see the adoring crowds crowding the object of their hope!

But it was worse than a nightmare. They were really going to kill Jesus! They saw the Romans lead Him out of the Damascus gate up onto Golgotha and nail Jesus to a Roman cross.

Perhaps, as they saw Him hanging there in utter shame and excruciating pain, they though that “maybe, just maybe, Jesus is going to turn this into the ultimate victory and come down from the cross!”

But He didn’t. He just hung their enduring the ridicule of the crowd while Pagan soldiers gambled for His only earthly possessions.

Finally, ALL hope was lost when a Roman soldier thrust a lance through His side to assure His death.

One of His followers, a man named Joseph, was brave enough to ask permission of Pilate to take the Body of Jesus from the cross.

The ULTIMATE end of hope came when they laid Jesus in a tomb near to where they killed Him, and rolled a two-ton stone over the entrance.

Their HOPES were buried with Jesus.

THAT is why they said, “We HAD hoped”.

If Jesus let them down, what could they hope in?

But the story doesn’t end there! God had not really failed them!

Jesus had NOT let them down! After they had expressed the reality of their shattered hope to this stranger, their new traveling companion said things that turned their hopeless world upside down!

Luke 24:25-35 25And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. 28So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, 29but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. 30When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 32They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” 33And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.

The hope that had been wiped out was made alive by the resurrection of Jesus Christ!

This new hope, this living hope, changed everything.

This living hope would have a profound effect upon the way that they lived.

This living hope would have a profound effect upon the way they looked at the world — and the things that they valued.

2 Corinthians 4:18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

This living hope would transform them from zeroes to heroes!

They would be transformed from shrinking cowards to courageous martyrs.

Acts 2:14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words.

This is the same Peter who wrote the words that we read at the beginning of this message.

1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

It is SO IMPORTANT that we understand THIS about the hope that the Gospel offers to people:

Christian hope is not a hopeful wish — it’s a hope-filled certainty because the object of our hope is alive.

Because Jesus died and rose again the expectation of all He has said, and all that He has promised, is certain.

The Hope of the Christian isn’t a dream, a wish, a distant expectation, a longing for something better.

Christian Hope is a person — and his name is Jesus — and because Jesus has conquered death itself the hope of the Christian is hanging on something that cannot die!

That is why Peter said that our HOPE is a LIVING HOPE.

Let us look at fews ways how this LIVING HOPE gives us HOPE FOR LIVING.

Hope for the Future

Sometimes it is difficult to LIVE here and now because we are uncertain about FOREVER. The resurrection of Jesus secures the question of forever.

John 14:19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.

Revelation 1:18 “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.

Outside of Jesus there is only the same old same old cycle of birth, life, and death – and that’s it!

Because of the resurrection of Jesus your life doesn’t end at the grave! The resurrection of Jesus guarantees the resurrection of the Christian!

2 Corinthians 5:1-2; 5-8 NLT 1For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. 2We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing….. 5God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit. 6So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. 7For we live by believing and not by seeing. 8Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord.

That’s why when a Christian dies we don’t mourn hopelessly — we mourn hopefully.

The Living Hope that we have because of the resurrection of Jesus doesn’t eradicate our sense of grief and loss. But it sweetens it. It overcomes it.

Paul Tripp — The resurrection of Jesus Christ means you’ll be invited to the one funeral you’ll want to attend; the funeral of death.

Hope for the Present

The resurrection of Jesus promises you everything you need between His resurrection and yours!

1 Peter 1:3-5 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

If your end has already been guaranteed, then everything you need along the way has been guaranteed — or you would never make it to your appointed end.

Future hope always carries with it the promise of present help.

Hope After Failure

Between the already of the resurrection of Jesus and the not yet of heaven or Eden restored we are going to shed countless tears over our many sins. But the resurrection of Jesus floods our hearts with transforming hope in the face of every fall!

Romans 4:25 NLT He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God.

When our sins cause us to wonder if there is any forgiveness to be found, when they cause us to want to give up, we have this awesome declaration of hope.

We can have hope for living because His resurrection assures our forgiveness — assures us that His death was sufficient payment for our every sin.  If we are willing to repent.

I’m going to state this in the first person — because I never want to forget the PERSONAL implications of the resurrection of Jesus.

In the midst of this pandemic the resurrection of Jesus giving me the strength to not dread the virus, to not loss sleep about what tomorrow will bring.

I have a virus already. It’s called hepatitis B. It nearly killed me 31 years ago and for the past 31 yrs it could have killed me each and every day that has gone by, it can still kill me today or tomorrow however because of the resurrection of Jesus the word of God is real to me. It’s living and active to the very center of my soul.

I believe God’s word when Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:[55]

“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”[56] The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. [57] But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. [58] Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you…..

For me this Hepatitis B virus inside my body or a virus outside my body does not consume me with fear or dread. Not because of some positive platitude or a stoic stiff upper lip but because of the HOPE I have in the ONE that lives. The one who’s name is Jesus.

Hebrews 2:15 (Jesus)By embracing death, taking it into himself, he destroyed the Devil’s hold on death [15] and freed all who cower through life, scared to death of death.

Because of the resurrection of Jesus I can stare my deepest, darkest failures in the face without fear!

Because of the resurrection of Jesus I can honestly face my actions that I regret most — and not be devastated!

I can confess that I really am a sinner — and yet never be full of fear or depressed!

This is so glorious! Because of the cross and resurrection of Jesus my hope doesn’t stand or fall on the basis of my perfection or my performance.

The cross of Jesus confirms the fact that sin is horrible beyond imagination and that I am a sinner needing a savior.

The Resurrection of Jesus guarantees that my sin has been paid for in full and that because of Jesus I can have fellowship with God and the absolute assurance of eternal life!

Hope of Victory

There are countless professing Christians who are on the brink of walking away from the Christian life because they feel so defeated.

They wonder if they will ever become the believer that God wants them to be.

There are countless Christians who wonder if their spouses or children will ever live victoriously.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the foundation of your hope.

You see, for hope to be real, hope must fix what’s broken.

The resurrection guarantees that Jesus can fix whatever it is that’s broken!

I pray we will all be AMAZED — and that we will all be REJOICING — as we look at these verses that God makes in His Word!

Ephesians 1:17-20 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you…. 19and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places 

There is hope for the most defeated believer BECAUSE of the resurrection of Jesus.

Christianity is not a matter of belonging to a certain religion or holding a particular religious point of view!

Christianity is about being united in a living relationship to the One who possesses death-conquering power — power that conquered death and hell!

Hope in the Chaos

Despite the chaos of my own brokenness and the brokenness of the world around me the resurrection of Jesus assures us that Jesus reigns.

If the world ever looked out of control — it was in the chaotic — unjust — and brutal events of the arrest and murder of Jesus!

The resurrection assures us that God is in control — that God wins!

The resurrection assures us that life will conquer death — truth will reign.

The resurrection assures us that His redeeming plans and purposes will be accomplished — Sin and death will be defeated —  Righteousness will overcome evil.

Closing

You can’t live without hope!

You were hardwired for hope.

But real hope isn’t a dream, a wish, a distant expectation, a longing for something better.

Hope has an object and hope has an expectation.

We all are hoping in something and asking that something to deliver.

What will you place your hope in today?

Most people spend their lives trying to make their heart’s fondest dreams come true. After all — that’s what culture tells us life is all about.

From every possible direction culture reminds us that life is all about, “the pursuit of happiness”?

Jesus disagrees, Life is about the pursuit of righteousness.

Matthew 6:33 (NIV)But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Here’s a guarantee — It’s an absolute because God is the One who made it: If we look to some created thing to give us the meaning and hope that only God himself can give, it will eventually fail to deliver and break our hearts.

The big question for each of us is this: Will you ask the creation to provide what the Creator alone can give?

Real hope is always found vertically! Every and any horizontal place you look to for hope will never deliver because like you, they’re broken — and like you, they’re groaning for redemption.

Here’s where it can get really dangerous!

In search of real hope people in droves start attending church because they believe that going to church, having friends that go to church, and “buying in” to a collection of Christian beliefs will deliver their expectations and answer the yearning for something better.

Listen! Christian culture is not your hope. It is JESUS who is your right now and forever hope.

“Buying” into the Bible is not your hope.

The One who is the subject of the Bible and the centerpiece of theology is your right now and forever hope.

Intellectually embracing the Gospel doesn’t give you hope. The Gospel is all about a person — Jesus!

The Gospel announces that the Hope of the World was born in a manger; the Hope of the World hung on a Cross — and the Hope of the World rose from the dead and is alive today!

Only faith in Jesus Christ can give to you a LIVING HOPE and HOPE FOR LIVING.

Let me end with a blessing:

May The LORD bless you and keep you;

May the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you;

May the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.

God bless you all