Episode 1. Reunited with Jesus
It’s tough to be alone. Sometimes we’re surrounded by people and yet we still feel alone. Well, one of God’s promises for you is this; that one day … on day you’ll be reunited with Jesus. And not only that. You’ll be spending the rest of eternity with Him. How’s that for a promise?! Without […]
It’s tough to be alone. Sometimes we’re surrounded by people and yet we still feel alone. Well, one of God’s promises for you is this; that one day … on day you’ll be reunited with Jesus. And not only that. You’ll be spending the rest of eternity with Him. How’s that for a promise?!
Without hope, life just isn’t worth living is it? And yet anyone who believes in Jesus has such a great and certain hope, because one day … one day, we’re going to be reunited with Him – and frankly, it just doesn’t get any better than that.
Hope – is one of the most important things to our wellbeing that there is. It’s a feeling or expectation or desire for good things to happen in our future. You know when you sit there and you daydream about this or that – it’s always about good things isn’t it. It’s as thought you’re creating a photo album in your mind of the good things that you want to happen to you in the future.
Worry and fear is pretty much the same – but that photo album is full of dark, negative pictures.
When we lose hope in the future, we often lose the will to go on. That’s why hope for tomorrow, is such an important part of who we are.
But it’s really interesting, the word hope appears around 133 times throughout the Bible, but it’s meaning is a little different to what we’re used to today. When we hope for something, it has a sense of uncertainty about it generally.
I hope I get a promotion at work, I hope that the scans didn’t detect cancer, I hope that my kids grow up to lead healthy, productive, successful lives. When something is certain – like you know that you’re going on a 2-week holiday starting next Thursday – we look forward to that with anticipation.
But when something is uncertain then we hope that it will happen. But the biblical word for hope doesn’t make any room for uncertainty. The moment you read hope in the Bible, it’s an indication of absolute certainty. As the article on bible.org says, the word Hope in Scripture means a strong, confident expectation.
So you see, there’s a profound difference between the way we use the word today, and the way it’s used in God’s Word and if we transpose our meaning, onto that word in Scripture we completely miss the point. Take this passage for instance:
For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. (Romans 8:24-25)
If you read those words using our modern-day understanding of the meaning of the word hope, it’s not very helpful at all. Let me give you that version:
For in uncertain hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we have a wishy-washy, uncertain hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Not only isn’t it helpful, but it just doesn’t make sense. Because if we wait with a wishy-washy uncertain hope, then there is no way that we’re going to feel patient on the inside. Now let’s read it the way that it was meant to be read, when it was written:
For in a certain, rock solid hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we have a strong, certain hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Now it makes sense. Now it’s a help. So the hope that God talks about, the hope that the Holy Spirit puts into our hearts, is a rock solid, guaranteed, done deal, it’s going to happen, certain kind of hope. It’s more akin to our understanding of anticipation – you know you’re going on holidays next Thursday, so you anticipate and savour that certainty – that’s what the Biblical word hope actually means.
And one of the things that we can hope in with absolute certainty, is that when we die and when Jesus comes again, we will be reunited with Him. In those days before He was crucified, Jesus told His disciples that He was going away – that was a scary thing for them, because they could sense the assassination plot, and they were wondering if they were going to be next. But this is what He said to them (John 14:1-3):
Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.
So this Jesus who was born as a babe onto this earth for us, this Jesus who died for us and who rose again, this Jesus who sits at the right hand of the Father, this Jesus whose name is above every name, to whom every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord – this very same Jesus is the one that we will be reunited with on that day. The Apostle Paul puts it this way, in his letter to the Thessalonians, Chapter 4, verses 16 to 18:
For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
Forget the dramatic happenings around Christ’s second coming for a moment – as glorious and as wonderful as that day will be – the bit that grabs my heart is this – that we will be with the Lord forever. Forever – we will be reunited with Jesus and we will be with Him forever and ever and ever without end.
Therefore – writes Paul – therefore encourage one another with these words. And that’s exactly what I want to do today – encourage you with these words. Because whatever your present circumstances are – and the disciples, when Jesus told them He was going away, their circumstances were desperate, they were in fear of their very lives – whatever you’re going through at the moment, if you believe in Jesus then you have the absolutely, rock solid, it’s a done deal hope that one day you will be reunited with Him and that you will dwell with Him forever and ever and ever amen. That’s what I call something to really look forward to.
The reason that I’ve called this series of messages Merchants of Hope is that this rock solid, certain hope of an eternity with Jesus is meant to do two things. It’s meant to make a difference to our lives and it’s meant to make a difference to the lives of those around us.
If you believe in Jesus and you’re not filled with this rock solid, certain confidence and hope in Christ, then it’s pretty difficult, I think you’d agree, to impact the lives of the people around us with the good news of Jesus. And actually, I think that good news is a complete understatement.
I’d go with fantastic news. Mind blowingly stunning news. The best news that’s ever been told or that ever will be told. Anyone who believes in Jesus needs to be telling this great news to those around them – not by being one of those boring, Bible bashing, condemnatory Christians. But by letting our confidence in Christ, the certain hope that we have in Him overflow out of our lives into the lives of those around us.
If you have forgiveness where others want to create conflict, if you have a warm smile on your face when others just have a furrowed brow and steely eyes, if you have a sense of assurance when the ocean of life is tossing people to and fro in some great storm – people notice that. As Paul Said – 2 Corinthians 5:20:
We are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God
Anyone who believes in Jesus is an ambassador of His – you and I should be merchants of hope. That’s the whole point. That’s how lives are transformed.