First Sunday of Advent: Hope
And again Isaiah says, “The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope.” Romans 15:12
The apostle Paul links the example of Jesus Christ in Romans 15 to one blessed word found in verses 12 and 13: Hope. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Rom. 15:13). Earlier in verse 4, Paul mentions that through our patient endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we are placed on a path marked by hope. Then, in verse 13, we discover a surprising purpose for our believe, for our joy, and for our peace. We discover why endurance is counted as a blessing and why the Scriptures should permeate all that we say and do. When Paul writes the two little words “so that”, he is creating a conclusion that links all of the previous verses together. This conclusion is simple and profound. Faith in God brings hope.
For the first time in salvation history, universal hope is possible, both for the Greek and the Jew, by believing in the name of Christ. Hope is why Stephen stood his ground while stones began flying. Hope is why Paul refused to budge when the prison shackles fell from his hands. Hope is why John finishes his book of Revelation with the simple prayer, “Come, Lord Jesus!” And hope is why you and I follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ every day. God does not grant us peace and joy solely for a temporal state of comfort. We are blessed with these gifts so that we may be confident of the hope that lives within us, namely Jesus Christ , the soon coming King.
But notice that hope is forever connected with belief in verse 13. We live in an age where self-trust and self-abilities dominate our worldview. The kind of hope people long for, the kind of hope that seems to elude so many of our neighbors and friends is the kind of hope only made possible by saving faith in God. Our own hope as believers must open our eyes to the hurting and dying world around us and cause us to be even more passionate about the central message of our faith: Jesus Saves. And with that, comes real hope.