January 19, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship
Word On Worship – January 19, 2014 Download / Print
“Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people. The news about Him spread throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all who were ill, those suffering with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them. Large crowds followed Him from Galilee and the Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and from beyond the Jordan.”
When we began this series, I said we should not study a subject by merely using a concordance to search out a certain word. The use of “hope” in the Gospels is an excellent illustration. One would be completely mistaken to conclude that there is little “hope” in the Gospels because the word “hope” is found there only twice. The problem in the Gospels is that the “hope” which we find is a misguided hope. In fact, hopes (expectations) were running high in Israel at the time of our Lord’s earthly ministry, but they were mistaken hopes, based upon wrong motives and expectations.
I believe it is safe to say from the hopes of the crowds looking to be fed to the hopes John the Baptist and the twelve disciples had that all were focused on what they expected Jesus to do for them. Yet each of them would falter in their faith and see that their hope had been rooted in false expectations of what the Messiah was supposed to do for them. And I would suggest, we are not that different in the foundations of our hope. There are several common characteristics between the misguided hope we see in people of the gospels and believers today which causes all of us problems when the future looks less promising than we have hoped.
The primary problem is our focus is fixed on present earthly blessings rather than on future heavenly blessings. The disciples continually asked Jesus about the kingdom and when it was coming. Jesus had told them that they would in the future sit on twelve thrones but they were eager to do so in the present. Jesus was quite clear in distinguishing between the “now,” with its troubles and sacrifices, and the “then” of the kingdom, with all of its glorious benefits. Jesus did not say there were no present blessings, but He did not obscure the line between present blessings with difficulties and ultimate eternal blessings. A disciple should live in the present in a way that “lays up treasure” in heaven, understanding he should expect little recognition from the world.
Far from hope being absent in the Gospels, I believe that correctly understanding hope is crucial to understanding what is happening in the Gospels. Reading the Gospels from the perspective of hope may be a new way of thinking through the life of Christ, but I believe that it is more than worth the time and effort to do so. My prayer is this study of hope in the Gospels opens our eyes to the hope of heaven and exposes areas in our lives where our hope has been built on something less than the blood and righteousness of Jesus.