As we’ve talked about the last few days on BreakPoint, Christian hope is not wide-eyed optimism or emotions. Christian hope is based on the certainty of God’s promises and His character. And it is evidenced by the fruits of joy, sacrificial love, boldness, and endurance. We see no better example of this kind of hope than in the life of our Savior, especially in the days and hours before His death.
In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus certainly had cause to abandon hope. His closest friends fell asleep in the time when, as he said, His soul was “overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” He pled with His Father to take the cup away from Him if it was possible. But there was no other way.
Yet even in that hour of agony, Jesus pressed on. The writer of Hebrews tells us why: “For the joy set before Him, [He] endured the cross, despising its shame.”
When the authorities came for Him, and Judas betrayed the Son of Man with a kiss, Jesus showed us the example of hope’s boldness. His disciples reached for their swords to protect Him, but Jesus rebuked them. He said, “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and He will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?”
No one could press on like this without hope. But where did it come from? Jesus told the disciples its source in those very moments. He said, “But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen this way?”
From childhood, Jesus had studied the Word of God. He read from Isaiah’s scrolls at the beginning of his public ministry. He had declared Himself to be the Suffering Servant whom Isaiah had foretold.
We see this again later, after the resurrection on the road to Emmaus. Jesus opened up the minds of the disciples to see all the things that had been foretold about Him in the Scriptures. Jesus — He who enjoyed the deepest level of intimacy with the Father — showed us how to put our hope in God by trusting in the Word of God.
The hope this gave Him enabled Him to endure what followed: the mockery, the scourging, the hammer, the lance, and the abandonment. Christ showed us hope transformed into sacrificial love. And as He was crushed under the weight of the sins of the world, the fragrance of His gift goes up to God as the perfect — the most pleasing — of any sacrifice.
And just as had been foretold, on the third day Christ did rise from the grave. He broke the chains of the captive. He set the prisoners free by conquering death and sin.
As Christians, we have no reason to lack hope. Christ has shown the trustworthiness of God and of His Word.
Having seen that God loved us enough that He did not spare even His own Son, how can we lack for hope today, even in these bleak times? Christ became for us both the basis of our hope, and our ultimate example of hope.
As we celebrate Easter this coming Sunday, I want to challenge you to, in these tough times, make a point to live in light of that tremendous resurrection hope.
Be joyful. Love beyond what is reasonable. Be bold. And endure. You are not like those who have no hope. You live on the other side of the Resurrection.
This commentary originally aired on April 10, 2009.
Chuck Colson's daily BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends via radio, interactive media and print.
Publication date: April 5, 2012