November 6, 2016
Epistle: Colossians 1: 3-12
Gospel: Matthew 9: 18-26
"Hope and Perseverance"
We’re now near the end of this major political cycle as our national elections are this coming Tuesday. Several years ago, one of the candidates had a platform calling for “hope and change”. Whether you agree or not that those goals have been met, it’s important to note that the concept of “hope” promulgated by those “of the world” is quite different from the concept of hope we as Christians understand. The world calls for an ephemeral desire for changes that will make “things” better. The hope of the world is for its “betterment” through technological, philosophical, and philanthropical pursuits. The hope we proclaim is quite different.
In Paul’s epistle to the Colossians, he states, “we give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, for the hope which is laid up for you in heaven.” Hope is the expectation of something better on the eternal scale, hoping for the eternal blessing of being with our Lord in Heaven.
Additionally, we read in I Corinthians 13 about how faith, hope, and love are the three great theological virtues being the chief pursuits of our lives – with the greatest of these being love. Our hope though is part of our loving relationship with God. He loves us. We love Him, and we have faith in the hope we will be in His presence for eternity.
But the Christian hope is not defined simply by a wistful longing. It is borne out through perseverance. As we read in the Gospel today, hope makes itself known through action. The ruler who comes to Jesus and begs Him to come lay hands on his dying/dead daughter speaks of the man’s incredible hope that Jesus might actually be able to do the miraculous and give his daughter life again. While on their way to the ruler’s home, a woman who has been sick for twelve years and has (presumably) held out hope the entire time that God would somehow heal her as she visited doctors and surely had priests and the religious pray for her. She knew though that this time, all she needed to do was approach Christ and touch his garment to find healing. She approached Him, touched his clothing and found the healing for which she so desperately longed. Her hope, through perseverance had been met.
Jesus then continues to the ruler’s home where he immediately meets the mourners who bewailed the daughter’s death. Those gathered mocked Jesus’ in His attempt to help the deceased girl. He, of course, persisted in His quest, made His way to the corpse, and offered her His hand while commanding her to rise. She did so, and we find the hope of the ruler, who persevered to find Jesus, come to its fruition.
We are called to hope in Christ, not just for the future hope of that eternal life with Him, but through all things, knowing that the sorrows we may encounter pale in comparison to the rich glories we will find in obedience and trust in Him. Our hope for eternity exists in the now as we have already begun our walk with God through His grace and mercy. Let us therefore continue in this glorious gift of hope, persevering through the hard times, assured of the joys of eternity with our Creator.