A Certain Hope in Uncertain Days: 30 Days of Hope-filled Focus
Day 3: A Living Hope
It was the most tragic and disappointing day in Peter’s life. As a disciple of Jesus, he had thought all along that Jesus had come to establish His Kingdom. But Jesus kept speaking to the disciples of a pending cross. And then Jesus told them how He would soon die and how all of them would scatter. Peter boldly asserted that he would never do that and was prepared even to die with Jesus.
But we know the rest of that story. Jesus was arrested and taken away. Peter was in a nearby courtyard. Three times he was asked regarding his relationship with Jesus. Three times Peter denied Jesus. He denied even knowing Jesus. He denied Jesus before a slave girl. After his denials, Jesus turned and looked at Peter. Peter “went out and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:62).
Can you imagine what must have been going through Peter’s mind? He had hoped for something. He had devoted himself to a dream and a cause, only to have his hopes suddenly swept away. I’ll bet you can relate to Peter. Who amongst us hasn’t hoped for something only to suffer disappointment when it didn’t come to pass? It is a part of our human experience. And in that we go through kind of a refining process. For there are, in this life, hopes that are mere hopes and there are other hopes that are firmly assured to us in the promises of God.
Some 30 years later, Peter wrote his first epistle to a group of believers who were suffering in the cause of Christ. They had trusted in Christ only to find that there was a high price to pay for being identified with Him. They were mistreated. Ostracized by family members and friends. Some lost their jobs or their homes. Some were beaten or abused. Some even lost their lives. But Peter wrote to remind them that, despite their trials, they had good reason to hope. In fact, they had been born again to a living hope. A hope that transcended their present-day troubles and trials.
Take note of these two words in 1 Peter 1:3. The term “living” is the common term for life that it used of life in all its various manifestations, physical and spiritual. Here is defines the nature of the hope spoken of. We should not that 1 Peter 1:3 is a verse that “bursts forth” with life—there is the being “born again,” which is about life; there is the “living” hope; there is the “resurrection” of Jesus Christ from the dead,” which is also about life. Richard Baxter spoke of being a preacher as being like a “dying man, speaking to dying men.” This verse is a message fitting to that enterprise. It is like a sunny and warm day amidst a cold and dark winter.
And then there is the term hope. It is not akin to our typical usage of the term. In our common vernacular the term includes an element of doubt. “I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow,” bears no certainty as to that which is hoped for. But Biblical hope is not like that—“It is a confident expectation regarding an unseen, future, reality.” There is no doubt associated with that which is hope for. The 1828 Edition of the Webster’s Dictionary includes this amongst the various meanings of the term hope: “Confidence in a future event; the highest degree of well-founded expectation of good; as a hope founded on God’s gracious promises.” That’s a great representation of the definition of the Greek term. By the way—interestingly—you won’t find that definition in the modern versions of the Webster’s dictionary.
This living hope exists because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. There would be no living hope if there were no risen Christ. To know Him is to possess both eternal life and this living hope (Cf. 1 John 5:11-12). That being said, not all possess such a hope. A person must be born to it through faith in Jesus. I’ve got a book entitled “Last Words of Saints and Sinners.” It recounts the hope-filled last words of saints who were near death and the hopeless and bitter last words of sinners who were on the verge of a Christ-less eternity. Not only is a living hope of value for life here and now, the possession of a hope makes all the difference for those who are facing the prospect of death. When every other hope and dream has run its course. When all hope for any earthly advantage is exhausted, this living hope is not diminished or threatened in the slightest. In darker days its shines even brighter. Do you possess such a hope? Do you know Jesus?