Be Hopeful Like Jesus !
Various Passages
 
By Paul Robison

One hymn has these words: “Hope as anchor so steadfast rends the dark veil for the soul, whether the Master has entered, robbing the grave of its goal.  Come, then O come, glad fruition, come to my sad weary heart.  Come O Thou blest hope of glory.  Never, no never, depart.  Whispering hope, O how welcome Thy voice; making my heart in its sorrow rejoice” (Hawthorne).  The image of hope as an anchor comes from Hebrews 6:19-20: “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.”  Our anchor has not been placed in sand, but it has been placed behind the veil, which is the most Holy Place in the tabernacle where God dwells; our anchor has been carried by Jesus into the port of the Almighty's presence and secured there.  So there is no doubt where our ship shall finally come to rest (Nelson Study Bible).  Our sure and steadfast anchor comes from Jesus, who was Himself optimistic and hopeful.  You know “the Christian hope is not simply a trembling, hesitant hope that perhaps the promises of God may be true.  It is the expectation that they cannot be anything else than true” (Barclay in McGuiggan)!  We are into a series of lessons where we are trying to imitate Jesus.  We want to be devoted to God as He was.  We want to be humble as He was.  We want to be courageous as He was.  And today, we want to be hopeful as He was.  Let's notice several ways that Jesus was hopeful.
 
First of all, overcome sin and selfishness.  At face value, we might ask, “How can anyone really overcome sin and selfishness?”  But Jesus did both!  He was sinless, and He was unselfish.  His victory in these areas gives us hope that we can overcome as well.  Let's look now at 1 John 3:4-6 from a modern version where we find some remarkable affirmations: “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.  You know that He appeared to take away sin, and in Him, there is no sin.  No one who abides in Him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen Him or known Him.”  Those who habitually sin are not practicing righteousness.  Sin is going against God's will.  How often do we fail to remember that God is holy and expects Christians to be as well (Roberts)?  Jesus came into this world and lived as a man to take away sin.  He made it His purpose to destroy sin and the devil so that His followers might live righteously (Ibid).  “In Him, there is no sin” could be interpreted two ways.  First of all, He is sinless.  Hebrews 4:15 says that Jesus was tempted in all points as we are, yet He was without sin.  Paul declares in 2 Cor. 5:21 that God made Jesus, who knew no sin, to be sin for us , that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.  “That we might become the righteousness of God in Him” is actually the second way “in Him, there is no sin” can be interpreted.  We can't achieve perfection from sin by our own human strength (John has already stated in 1 John 1:8 that if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us).  No, Christians are not sinless, but they can overcome being slaves to sin because when we are baptized into Christ, we are made partakers of His sinless perfection, and He is our Advocate and High Priest who pleads for mercy before God.  That's why John then writes: “No one who abides in Him keeps on sinning.”  You see, there is a contradiction between a sinlessly perfect Master and a continually sinning disciple (Ibid.).  When Christians make sin the habitual pattern of their lives, they are acting against the whole purpose of Christ's first appearing, which was to take away sin (Stott).  We are no longer slaves to sin.  Notice how Peter puts it in 1 Peter 2:23-25: “When [Jesus] was reviled, [He] did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.  For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”  Hope to overcome a sinful life becomes a reality in Jesus!  Be hopeful as Jesus was!  Now let's look at Luke 22:24-27: “Now there was also a dispute among them [the apostles], as to which of them should be considered the greatest [note, this debate was happening right after the Lord's Supper].  And He [Jesus] said to them: 'The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called “benefactors”.  But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves.  For who is greater, he who sits at table or he who serves?  Is it not he who sits at table?  Yet I am among you as the One who serves.”  In Jesus' day, there was a definite pecking order among the Romans.  Those with the most wealth and power were the “lords”, and then came the “benefactors”, and then came the lower class and the slaves.  But notice that Jesus denounces these distinctions among His followers: “But not so among you!  You all are not to act in this way.  In fact, instead of aspiring to a benefactor, aspire to be a servant to all, just as I have been a servant among you.”  Mark 10:45 affirms: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”  Jesus overcame selfishness by demonstrating true servanthood.  All throughout His life, He was putting others' needs above His own.  How many of His seven sayings on the cross were addressed to others?  In we include God, five or six of the seven are addressed to others!  As Jesus followers, we too can overcome selfishness.  In fact, we are commanded by Jesus to die daily to ourselves because when we lose our lives for His sake, then we will end up finding  them (Lk. 9:23-24).  The hope of unselfish living can become a reality in Christ!  Overcome sin and selfishness!  Be hopeful like Jesus!
 
Next, overcome the devil and evil.  Let's look at Luke 11:20-23 where Jesus answers those who accuse Him of casting out demons through Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons: “But if I cast out demons with the finger of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.  When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace.  But when a stronger than he comes upon him and overcomes him, he takes from him all his armor in which he trusted, and divides his spoils.  He who is not with Me is against Me, and He who does not gather with Me, scatters.”  The devil is like the strong man who was guarding his palace.  But now Jesus is the one who is stronger than the devil who has come upon him and overcome him!  The devil has been defeated by Jesus!  If we as Christians remain faithful, we share in that victory as well!  Note what John writes in Revelation 12:10-12: “Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven: 'Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.  And they [who are the Christians] overcome him [that's the accuser or the devil] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.  Therefore, rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them!  Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea!  For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.'”  You see, we are either living in Satan's kingdom or we are living in God's kingdom, and there is no Twilight Zone in between.  Paul writes that Christians “have been delivered from the power of darkness and conveyed into the kingdom of the Son of God's love” (Colossians 2:13)!  If we will all work together to resist the devil by helping each other put on the Christian armor of truth, righteousness, the gospel, faith, salvation, and the spirit, then James says the devil will flee from us, and Paul assures that we will be able to stand against his attacks (James 4:7 and Ephesians 6:10-17)!  Let's overcome the devil!  Let's be hopeful like Jesus!  Jesus also overcame evil!  Listen to His optimistic words in John 16:33: “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.  In the world, you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world!”  Our American culture is becoming more and more of the world.  And since hostility towards Christianity is growing, we as Christians can expect ridicule, sarcasm, belittling, and trouble.  Now our brothers in other parts of the world face even greater horrors: oppression, slavery, persecution, and death.  Because we are in Christ, we continue the sufferings of Christ.  Yes, in this world, we WILL have tribulation!  Aren't we glad though that Jesus didn't finish His affirmation at this point.  Jesus then adds: “But be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world!”  Jesus had conquered evil!  Yes, but how does that victory relate to us?  Now look at 1 John 5:4-5: “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world.  And this is our victory that overcomes the world—our faith.  Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”  John defines this conquering faith as believing in Jesus as God's Son.  You see, this means that we believe in the incarnation.  It means that God cared enough for people's best welfare, that He took upon Himself the limitations of humanity.  And it also means that as a man He shared in all the trials, temptations, injustices, and cruelties that this world had to offer—just look at the bloodstained cross!  And when we realize that God cares and God shares, then three great certainties follow: 1) we have a defense to resist the infections of the world because Jesus is ever near; 2) we have the strength  to endure the world's attacks because we know that Jesus conquered despite His sufferings; 3) we have the indestructible hope of final victory because after the world used its evil to defeat Jesus, He arose and was unstoppable (Barclay)!  Do you believe that Jesus is God's Son?  That belief determines whether you will be defeated by the world or will be victorious over the world!  Overcome the devil and evil!  Be hopeful like Jesus!
 
Next, overcome death and the physical.  Note Jesus' words in Revelation 1:18: “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore.  Amen.  I have the keys of Hades and Death.”  Jesus was dead, but now lives forever more.  As the one who lives forevermore, just as God lives, Jesus holds the keys to death and to the realm of the dead.  As the Conqueror over death, Christ now has the power over death's future and over the future of those who have died!  We got a glimpse of that power while Jesus was upon earth and brought back to life Jairus' daughter, a widow's son, and His good friend Lazarus!  Jesus' victory over death is also the guarantee of our victory over death.  Look now at 1 Corinthians 15:54-57 where the apostle Paul affirms: “So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: 'Death is swallowed up in victory!' 'O death, where is your sting?  O Hades [or grave], where is your victory?'  The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!”  Jesus has taken away death's sting!  In fact, Paul asserts in 2 Timothy 1:10 that He has abolished death and brought life and immorality to light through the gospel!  Jesus' complete victory over death is a foretaste of our victory over death as well!  Overcome death!  Be hopeful like Jesus!  Overcome the physical!  Because Jesus had a body, He well understands the pros and cons associated with both the world's nature and our physical nature.  Listen to what Jesus commands in John 6:27 & 51: “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him. ... I am the living bread which came down from heaven.  If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”  Jesus wants us to take the focus off the physical and put it on Him because He no longer is physical but spiritual and immortal!  Now look at Romans 8:31-39: “What shall we say to these things?  If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?  Who shall bring a charge against God's elect?  It is God who justifies.  Who is he who condemns?  It is Christ who died, and furthermore, is risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  [Aren't all these things physical?]  As it is written: 'For Your sake we are killed all day long.  We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.'  Yet in all these things, we are more than conquerors through Him who love us.  For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Physical things can attack us, persecute us, even take our lives, but nothing in this world can separate us from Jesus' love!  Overcome the physical!  Be hopeful like Jesus!
 
Next, overcome pain and sorrow.  Paul encourages us in Romans 12:21: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  Now if we can be victors to some degree in this life by overcoming evil, just think how we can overcome in the life after this one which Jesus has promised!  Notice Jesus' interesting words in Revelation 3:21: “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.”  Isn't this saying that “those who share Christ's victorious experience on earth will have a victory  similar to His in heaven” (Nelson Study Bible)?  In heaven, all pain, sorrow, and woes from this earth will be overcome.  Look at what John writes in Revelation 21:4-7: “And God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.  There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.  Then He who sat on the throne said, 'Behold, I make all things new.'  And He said to me: 'Write, for these words are true and faithful.'  And He said to me: 'It is done!'  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.  I will give the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.  He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God, and he shall be My son.”  What wonderful divine promises are seen in this passage!  God Himself is speaking.  The same Being who began this revelation in 1:8 is the One who concludes it as well.  God is the Source of life, and He is the Goal of life as well.  Just as Jesus said: “It is finished or achieved” at the climax of His earthly ministry, so now God says: “It is finished or achieved” as well.  And what a has been accomplished?  A whole new dimension of existence.  The former creation of God, our earth and the universe, has passed away, and God has made all things new!  In this new order, those who overcome enjoy complete joy and intimate closeness!  There is no pain, no sorrow, no crying, no tears, and no death.  There is God's hand of care, His throne, the fountain of the water of eternal life, and an everlasting fellowship with God and all the saints!  Those who have suffered as Christians in this world realize that there has been purpose in their pain and sorrow!  Overcome pain and sorrow!  Be hopeful like Jesus!
 
Jesus' hope is a marvelous hope!  Have you overcome sin and selfishness?  Are you overcoming the devil and evil?  Will you overcome death and the physical?  These blessings in this life come to those who have made Jesus their Master, the One who affirmed: “But be of good cheer, I have overcome the world!”  Have you made Jesus your Lord?  Have you started the life of an overcomer through the decision of repentance and immersion of baptism?
 
Let's pray: “Heavenly Father, we thank you that we can be overcomers!  We thank you for the hopes with which You have blessed us.  Because of Jesus, we're grateful that many of our hopes have become realities!  In His name we pray, Amen.”

 
“Christ is you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27)!  Jesus is preparing that new dimension right now where all His followers will enjoy no more pains and sorrows!  Becoming a Christian may bring you suffering in this life, but we have heard the wonderful promise that such sufferings will seem as nothing when we enjoy that new dimension of everlasting peace and fellowship!  “Glory is waiting, waiting up yonder, where we shall share an endless day.  There with our Savior, we'll be forever, where no more sorrow can dismay.  No tears in heaven fair, no tears, no tears up there.  Sorrow and pain will all have flown.  No tears in heaven fair, no tears, no tears up there.  No tears in heaven will be known” (Arnold).  To enjoy the Savior there, we must embrace and obey Him here.  Don't let this opportunity pass to make Jesus your Savior and Lord!