A Certain Hope in Uncertain Days: 30 Days of Hope-filled Focus
Day 4: We Had Hoped
How gloomy is the expression “We had hoped” (Luke 24:21)! Who hasn’t shared in an experience like that of those disciples who had uttered those words? They had hoped for something, a noble thing, but suffered bitter disappointment in the death of their dream. “We had hoped” disappointments are common to man. Sin and death and their associated trials work to diminish and destroy all ill-founded human hopes, but in Jesus there is good reason for a living and lasting hope.
The disciples on the road to Emmaus were talking with each other about the things that had recently transpired in the city of Jerusalem. “Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him” (Luke 24:16-17). In their conversation with their unrecognized friend the two disciples spoke of how Jesus, “a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people,” was delivered up by the “chief priests and rulers…to be condemned to death and crucified” (Luke 24:20). “But we had hoped,” they said, “that he was the one to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21).
The disciples had hoped for a thing, but God was doing something far greater than that which they had hoped for. Their hope was invested in the redemption of Israel. They had thought that Jesus was working to accomplish that goal. They believed Him to be the promised Messiah. They hoped that He had come to deliver His oppressed people from the Romans and to reign as King. They had invested their lives in their ministry with Him. But His death worked to vanquish their hope. They could not then envision the greater work that God had purposed to accomplish. Jesus will one day redeem Israel (as they had hoped), but He came “to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Through His redemptive work “a living hope” has been availed to all, Jew and Gentile alike.
The disciples were lacking hope because they were unaware of Jesus’ presence. “Their eyes were kept from recognizing him” (Luke 24:16). Sin is the ultimate cause for diminished hope. The evils that beset us in this life can be traced back to that fateful day when Adam and Eve fell in the garden. Adam’s kin are all born to a hopeless existence (Cf. Ephesians 2:12). The “shadow of death” works to vanquish even the most vibrant of earthbound hopes. But the two disciples actually had good reason to hope because they were walking with the One who had conquered both sin and death. In Adam all sinned (Romans 5:12), but the One who came to pay for sin, declaring “It is finished,” was present with them (John 19:30). In Adam all die (1 Corinthians 15:21), but the “living One,” who rose from the dead, was in their midst (Revelation 1:18). Sin and death, the great obstacles to reason for hope, had been vanquished by the One with whom they conversed! It is possible for us to walk unaware of Jesus’ presence. But He doesn’t just walk with the believer in Christ, He dwells within (Galatians 2:20; Colossians 3:3-4). By His presence He ministers hope (Cf. Romans 15:13).
The disciples were lacking hope because they were ignorant as to the promises of Scripture. The two disciples had heard of the mysterious events that occurred following Jesus’ death. “Women of (their) company amazed” them (Luke 24:22), having discovered His tomb to be empty. They “had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive” (Luke 24:23). Some went “to the tomb and found it just as the woman had said” (Luke 24:24). They had heard of these events but failed to put things together. Then Jesus said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory? And beginning with Moses and the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:25). The Scriptures, inasmuch as they collectively speak of the Savior and God’s associated promises, are a sure and overflowing reservoir of hope and encouragement to hope-thirsty souls (Romans 15:4).
The disciples were lacking hope until their eyes were opened. Jesus shared a meal with them. “When he was at the table with them, he took the bread and blessed it and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him” (Luke 24:30-31). Their eyes were opened to the truth of His resurrection and in Him well-founded hope was secured. None of us have seen Jesus (1 Peter 1:8-9), but in Christ the believer has good reason for hope even amidst his trials (1 Peter 1:6), for he has been “born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). In this world there is tribulation, but be of good cheer, believer, you serve a Risen, Reigning, and Returning Savior. The words, “we had hoped,” will never again be uttered by His own after they one day enter into His presence (Cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)!