Hope is an intensely abused word. We toss it around as a preface to so many things it’s lost much of its original significance. We say things like, “I hope it doesn’t rain,” or “I hope my team wins,” each appropriate uses of the word, but are they even close to the proper definition of hope?
Webster defines hope as, “The feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out well.” This rendering suggests there is an element of chance involved. Your team may or may not win despite your best hopes and let’s face it, rain is stronger than all of our greatest hopes combined. So let’s push the question even further: when we read hope in scripture does it also hold the same degree of inherent chance? No, which is a good thing, hope in today’s cultural vernacular differs greatly from the original word we read in scripture. The Greek word for hope is defined as “to anticipate; an expectation of what is sure.” If we substitute certain for sure, we can begin to see the amazing differences.
Acts 23:6 has Paul on trial before the Sanhedrin: “I am on trial for the hope and resurrection of the dead, for this I am judged.” If Paul hadn’t been certain of Christ’s resurrection he would not have stood in judgment. It wasn’t a flip of the coin, Man I sure hope it actually happened hope, he was so certain of the resurrection he was willing to give up his life in proclaiming its reality. Paul stood before the religious leaders who opposed his message with a certainty that held no element of chance.
As we begin our journey through the Advent season let’s first reaffirm our commitment to the reality of the Gospel message. To quote the hymn, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” What if we substituted certain for hope in the song? It would indeed mess up the flow, but it would proclaim that we hold firm to our belief that Jesus came as the Christ child, lived His life to be a living example for the world, died, resurrected and later ascended, to complete our salvation. Of this we are certain, and our certainty should be celebrated each day of the Advent season.
Dear God, we thank you for sending us Jesus, the Christ Child, our hope, our expectation of all that is sure and certain in this life and our total and complete certainty of the life to come.
Johns Creek Baptist Church