‘Well, you can always hope’ we sometimes say. Especially when things look quite hopeless. Hope can sometimes seem such a fragile thing when set against the stark reality of life with its disappointments and disasters. ‘You’re hoping’ is another one, by which we mean, ‘Get real and expect the worst’. Such pessimism might be excused given what’s happening in the world right now, with Russia flexing its muscles and the threat of Islamic terrorism looming large across the world.
It seems that human beings fail to learn the lessons of history and are doomed to keep on repeating its mistakes. But the situation is not hopeless. God promised that he would send someone to rescue us from sin and suffering. And that someone is Jesus. When he came into the world he specialised in giving hope to the hopeless. He healed people of incurable diseases. He promised forgiveness to people overwhelmed with guilt. He spoke of eternal life to people who lived in fear of death. The deepest human hopes were realised by Jesus.
Jesus’ followers began to hope that their Master was the One who would make the world a better place, where kindness prevailed over cruelty and love over hate. But people turned against him. They took the very embodiment of hope and nailed him to a cross. As he hung and suffered there Jesus cried out, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’
When Jesus’ followers took his lifeless body down from the cross and laid it in a tomb their hopes perished with him. At least that’s how it seemed to them at the time.
On the first Easter Sunday morning some of Jesus’ disciples went to visit his tomb. To their surprise and amazement thy found it empty. The body of Jesus had gone. Some thought that his remains had been stolen away. But Jesus had not been a victim of grave robbery. Rather, he had been raised from the dead. Later that day he appeared to his followers and showed them the marks of crucifixion in his hands. He explained that his death on what we call ‘Good Friday’ was not a tragic accident. It was all part of God’s plan that Jesus would lay down his life for the sins of the world. He was forsaken by God that we might be reconciled to him.
Jesus lives. He has broken the power of death by his death and resurrection. The Christian has been ‘born again to a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.’ (1 Peter 1:3). Life in this world can sometimes seem quite hopeless, but those who believe in the living Lord Jesus have a reason for hope.