Updated: Sep 9
Read: Luke 24:13-32
Hope. Such a beautiful word, and yet, when it is shattered, what a void can remain where hope once resided. Oh, hope isn't always so dramatic. For example, there are little hopes that even if they go unfulfilled make little difference. Do you remember the TV show "Let's Make a Deal?" How many times did we see a person taking a chance on an unknown commodity while giving up a sure thing. The hope was that whatever was hidden behind the curtain or under the pretty box would be even better than what the contestant gave away. He was willing to take the chance. Hoping the risk was worth the reward. Sometimes there was a piece of jewelry, and sometimes, the "prize" was a silly gift worth very little. The gag prizes were referred to as zonks." Not what was hoped for but not life changing either.
The problem often lies in the fact that we hope in an outcome that seems unshakeable. Surely, we think, we know the result, and we rest in that certainty. I heard about an example of such an expected outcome this week that paints the picture of how we set our own hopes. Back in May at West Point, while renovating the statue of a Polish military engineer who greatly helped our country during the Revolutionary War, a one-square-foot lead box was found. It had remained in the base of the statue of the hero for almost 200 years. Surely something exciting would be found that had been hidden away in this large time capsule. Cadets suggested that perhaps there was a diary, a bayonet, or even a class ring. On-line guesses included a corn chowder recipe, a pair of beard trimmers used by former president Ulysses S. Grant or even maps of West Point's steam tunnels. On the bit day, as the unveiling of the contents of the box was anticipated, Superintendent Lt. Gen. Steven Gilland confidently predicted that the reveal would be better than Geraldo Rivera's opening of Al Capone's secret vault. Surely that would be true since millions waited with anticipation back in 1986, only to be treated to nothing at all. This week, there was nothing but silt. That was the result at least at first blush. The big reveal that was live streamed yielded nothing. Happily, a few days later, an archeologist found six old silver coins and a commemorative medal that was hidden in the silt. However, since it is unknown why these were hidden away in such a large box, many questions will probably remain unanswered. The expectations of so many were not realized. When hope lies in a particular outcome, there is disappointment, isn't there??
In today's scripture reading from Luke 24:13-32, We meet two very forlorn disciples of Jesus. In the 21st verse of the chapter, we see why. They obviously loved Jesus, and they had hoped that He might be the One Who would redeem Israel. They had seen His mighty acts and heard His mighty words, but now, He was dead. He hadn't done what they had hoped. No doubt, Jesus' death on the cross never was a part of their thinking.
Even though Jesus had told His disciples that this was why He had come. In fairness to these two broken hearted disciples, we aren't certain they were in the group who had heard these proclamations that the Savior gave. Yet, we see from the words Jesus spoke to them that there was much they should have known because of the words of the prophets. In Luke 24:25-27, Jesus laid out the truth that would break into their sadness. It had been there for them all the time. The Promised One, the prophets had proclaimed had to suffer and give His life. Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22, as well as other passages clearly picture the death of the Savior and what it would accomplish.
They had been hoping with a particular outcome in mind. Please know that I am not pointing a finger at them because they did that. Had I been there, who can say what I might have believed. Probably my hope would also have been shattered. Isn't that generally true when we don't anchor hope to truth but instead try to anchor it to an outcome that might be even smaller than what the Lord wants to accomplish.? That was true for these two disciples. They were thinking of Israel's release from the Romans. An understandable hope; however, Jesus had made atonement for the sin of the world, 1 John 2:1-2. Their hope had been too small because Jesus had come to redeem people from every tribe and nation, not just Israel, Revelation 5:9. Oh, the joy they had when they recognized Jesus, Luke 24:31. How beautiful it was when their hope went from being dashed to resting in the truth of the scriptures. Luke 24:32 describes how their hearts had burned within them as Jesus laid out the truths that spoke of Him. When that happened, they had to find the eleven and tell them. They had to share the hope because this hope rested on the certain foundation of the truth of the Word of God. No wonder they went right away to share it with their friends.
Sometimes, we hear people saying that the important thing is that a person is sincere in his beliefs. They say that what we believe isn't the important thing. Instead, it is that we truly believe it. Perhaps that sounds comforting to some, but with love I say that sincerity won't truly help if it isn't anchored in unchangeable truth.
Let's return to Geraldo Rivera and Lt. Gen Steven Gilland. They had every reason to be confident that they would be present at the unlocking of something quite amazing when their hidden treasures were revealed. The problem was that it wasn't true. They couldn't have known that because they didn't have information ahead of time, but we do! Praise God. We do. We have rock solid truth to buoy up ourselves and to tenderly share with others. Why do I use the word tenderly? Because although truth isn't fragile, often the people with whom we share it are. We hold out hope with gentleness and respect. We don't bludgeon people with it. The Holy Spirit will cause their hearts to burn in His way and in His time just as He did as Jesus spoke to the two on the Road.
Lord, sometimes we are disappointed when a hoped-for outcome doesn't come. Thank You that You understand our sadness and, You don't turn away from our tears, Psalm 56:8. Father, at the same time, You are the God of all hope Who wants to turn our eyes toward Your comforting truth. Thank You that when we have been strengthened by Your hope, You often enable us to hold out Your eternal comfort to others, 2 Corinthians 1:3-5.