Sermon April 14, 2007 : John 11 - Tears of Hope

Posted in Sermons
  • Presenter: Gregory Bishop
  • Date: April 14, 2007
  • Location: Congregation Lion of Judah, Boston MA

You’ve got your Bibles, John 11? And this is one of my favorite stories in the New Testament, in fact I mean the whole group after it. We have a group of men in recovery from addictions and we call it Grupo Lázaro, Lazarus group, because we believe that those of us who are there have been risen from the dead.

God is in the process of taking the bandages off, so we’re going to talk about this story of Lazarus and before we get into it, just to notice that Lazarus was a friend of Jesus, because sometimes we think that Jesus was such a ethereal spiritual being that we forget that he became human, and he had friends, and he had some specially close friends: Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha. The Bible says he would go over to their house to eat. He even almost got tangled up in a squabble between two sisters going on. That’s how intimate they were with him.

When they got in a fight, they said, Jesus, tell her to do…. I mean, we’re talking, this is not there being all super spiritual, this is human. He was in their house. He was relaxing. He was hangeando, the way I use that word with a friend, he was just hanging out with them. He was intimate with them, and we know that they loved him dearly. This is the same Mary who anointed him with oil and her tears and worshipped him. It’s the same Martha who was busy serving and who took good care of him. She was very concerned about the food and about her friend Jesus getting enough of it, and his friend Lazarus. And so, we’re going to read about the story of the interaction here and I hope it’ll sow a certain message that I believe God has for us today.

So, we’ll go ahead and read it and then we’ll pray, in John, chapter 11, we’ll start in the first verse, it says:

“Now a man named Lazarus was sick, he was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Now, this Mary, whose brother Lazarus now law sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair. So the sister send word to Jesus, Lord, the one you love is sick. And when he heard this, Jesus said, ‘This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory, so that God’s son may be glorified through it.

Now, Jesus loved Martha and her sister, Lazarus, yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, and then he said to his disciples, ‘Let’s go back to Judea’. And then, skipping ahead, we’re just going to skip a little bit. In verse 14:

“He told them plainly saying, ‘Lazarus is dead and for your sake I’m glad I was not there, so that you may believe, but let us go to him.’ And then Thomas called Dídimo said to the rest of the disciples, ‘let us also go that we may die with him”

I’m going to pray and then we’ll just keep going through this story. Father, in Jesus’ name we come before you today. And Father, I thank you for each one that you brought into this house, God with their own dramas tonight, the things that they are living and going through that I don’t know but you do know. And Lord, I thank you that you are the God of life and abundant life. And Father, I pray, God that your message will feed your people tonight, God, that it will be your spirit speaking to us, Father, it will be your word and Father, we invite you, we open our hearts. I want to hear from you tonight and I know my brothers and sisters do as well. So we dedicate this time to you in Jesus name. Amen.

So, Lazarus was sick. Now, think about this. He’s gravely sick, he’s in danger and they call Jesus, saying ‘the one you love is sick’. So what does Jesus do when he hears this? What does he do? He does absolutely nothing for two days. Have you ever felt like you are in a crisis and it seems like, where’s God in the middle of all this? have you ever had that feeling before?

You know, there’s a story in the New Testament of a storm that breaks out in a boat, and the disciples are there. And what’s Jesus doing during the storm? Anyone remember? He’s sleeping. He’s sleeping. Jesus don’t you care, we’re about to drown? And Jesus wakes up and he’s like, ‘guau, what’s going on?’ Jesus rebukes the storm and says, ‘Have you no faith?’

Sometimes when we’re going through crisis, sometimes terrible crisis we find ourselves asking, don’t you care God? It seems like you’re sleeping, it seems like you’re far away.

Lazarus, the one you supposedly love is sick and you’re just staying there for two extra days. So, there are sometimes in our lives where it feels like God is delaying, where he’s not acting as quickly as we hope and want him to. And there’s this feeling that we have of, it’s difficult, we don’t understand why. There’s some confusion, there’s some mystery about it, and if you read through the New Testament you’ll see that over and over again God allows certain crisis to develop for a certain purpose in our lives.

Now, I’m not going to say he’s the author of these crisis. I don’t think God does evil things to us, but he sometimes allows certain crisis to play themselves out before he intervenes. Sometimes he will even engineer certain crisis, like the foot shortage, remember? When they didn’t have any food and they come to Jesus, they were out of food and Jesus is like, well, why don’t you give them something to eat? You know, he sometimes, he almost… in that case, he actually used it as a teaching example for his disciples. But here it’s a human crisis that involves real pain and real illness, and yet Jesus took two days.

I just want to start with that thought because I think we’ve all been there at different moments. We’ve all had moments when we’re going through a difficult time and as much as we believe, we just can’t seem to see what God is doing at that time.

So, let’s look at how the story unfolds. Jesus finally gets there, verse 17:

“…On his arrival Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days, four days….”

Now, Bethany was less than 2 miles from Jerusalem and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother, and when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him but Mary stayed at home.

“…Lord, Martha said to Jesus, if you had been here my brother would not have died…”

Now, Martha, before we keep going let’s going to think about that. She runs out, she meets him. Her first thought is, oh, Jesus, it’s so good to see you. Oh, I’m so glad you came. She said, Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died. You know, Martha again was a very dear friend of Jesus and she felt free to say what she really thought and felt. You know, sometimes when things are really confusing we have questions and we’re like: Lord, if you had been here, I don’t understand why…. And you’ll notice Jesus doesn’t rebuke her for asking this question. He doesn’t say, that’s bad for you to say that to me. But, anyway, she says that.

She says, “… Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died….”, and then she says something, and before I read it, she says …. It’s a comment that I read over and over again but it hit me as I read it this time. It’s a comment that is absolutely unbelievable. I want to look at it here.

“….Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died, she said, but I know that even now –think about what the ‘even now’ was for her at that point. She had seen her brother suffering in bed for many days. She had seen her brother wrapped up and prepared with spices and buried. She had seen them roll a stone in front of the tomb and he had been there for 4 days, 4 days of weeping till there were no tears left. And she comes out in her frustration and her angry, she said:

“Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died, but I know that even now….” –for me that phrase is the essence of hope, but even now, even now. Now, I don’t think even she knew exactly what she was saying, but there was something in her that still knew that there was hope, even now.

“…. Even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask…”

So, there’s something. Now, she didn’t know, we know later, she didn’t even know what she was asking for, but she knew, she wasn’t necessarily hoping for some thing, but she was hoping in someone. She didn’t know what Jesus was going to do, because later we know, Jesus goes, rolls away the rock and she’s like, no, there’s already a smell. She obviously had no concept that Jesus was about to do what we know he went on to do.

But she said, “… I know that God will give you whatever you ask. I don’t understand why this happened, I don’t understand how I’m going to get through this, but I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask. Now, I challenge you in the midst of certain situations where there is no clear answer spelled out for us to use that phrase that begins with ‘but’, ‘but I know that even now’.

So, then look what Jesus says to her, he says in verse 23:

“Your brother will rise again….”

Now, any good Jewish man or woman believed ultimately in the resurrection, that death isn’t the end, that some day the dead will be raised again, so Martha answered like a good believing Hebrew woman:

“I know that will rise again in the resurrection at the last day”. And Jesus like, no, you know but you don’t really know. You believe in the concept of resurrection but you have no idea what it’s really all about and he says to her:

“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live even though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”

And then he looked at her and said: “Do you believe this?”

And I think that’s what happens in the middle of the crisis, God comes, we have questions. God I don’t understand but I know that you’re with me even now. And he says, there’s hope and resurrection; but then he looks at you, and says, but do you believe this?

Now, we wouldn’t be here if we didn’t have faith, if we didn’t believe. But there come certain moments in life, certain crisis moments where Jesus really looks us in the eye and says, no, no, in this situation, do you believe what I’m telling you?

And then she answers in a public profession: “….Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God who is to come into the world…”

Martha, in the midst of the struggle professed her faith. And so after that Jesus goes on, verse 28, we’ll continue reading:

“…she went back, called her sister Mary aside, ‘the teacher is here, she said, and is asking for you’. And when Mary heard this she got up quickly and went to him….”

Now, Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him, and when the Jews who had been with Mary in the house comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to morn there, and when Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said:

“Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died…”

A professor of mine in seminar pointed out different sisters, same question. You know, Jesus could have said, look, back off, Mary. You know, that’s what he said, he was Dr. Pulisher, with that thick accent he’s got, look Mary, back off! You know, he said, Martha already laid that trip on me, you know, he said in his own way.

And could Jesus have said? Did he rebuke her? Oh, look, just back off, ok. Look, enough questions! I’ve got a…… No, no, he doesn’t say anything. Jesus came, he knew what he was doing and he was willing to deal with the struggles that the people who are intimate with him have. Ok? So he came, and then, Jesus just went along and:

“…he saw them weeping, -verse 33- …..and he saw the Jews who had come along with her also weeping. He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled and said, ‘where have you laid him?’ ‘Come and see, Lord, they replied,….. -and then the shortest verse in the Bible, verse 35,- …. Jesus wept. And they said, ‘See how he loved him?’ But some of the others asked, ‘could not he who has opened the eyes of the blind, had kept this man from dieing?. Jesus wept….”

You know, sometimes people will ask me, in moments of horrible crisis, why did this happen? Why did this happen? And one person said, God must not like me very much. And I don’t always have answers of why things happen. We don’t know. God doesn’t explain it to us, but I know that he loves us in the midst of what we’re going through and I can say, I don’t know why this happened, but I know where God is. I know he’s right here with us right now, and he’s weeping with us, when there are crisis, when there’s tragedy. The way they put it in Spanish is even stronger, it says:

“… se estremeció en espíritu y se conmovió....”

He was shaken, he was shaken with the pain he felt as he saw the agony around him. I had a question as I read this. Jesus knew what he was going to do. He knew he was going to raise up Lazarus. He knew that in the end everything was going to work out great, why the pain? And I don’t believe he was just…. We believe Jesus was sincere. He was truly shaken emotionally, like in the garden of Getsemaní, there was real pain he was experiencing. Why, if he knew, that he was going to it, why didn’t he say, look don’t worry about it, it’s all going to be ok? That’s our temptation to say when there’s hard time, don’t worry, everything is going to be ok. Jesus doesn’t say that, right then. He experienced his emotional pain. And I believe what he’s doing is he is feeling, he’s not just theoretical, Jesus is feeling up close what the people he loved are going through. And that’s part of why he became human, that’s part of why God sent his Son so that he could fully identify himself with us. You know, sometimes we have people say, oh, I know exactly what you feel. You’re like, well, you don’t know exactly how I feel. I mean, I appreciate that you’re trying to encourage me, but…. We don’t know exactly how another person feels, but Jesus can say, yes, I do know how you feel and I know what you’re going through and I’m feeling it with you. And that’s what happens in this text.

Jesus enters into the pain of the people he loves the most and he weeps. And he says,:

“…He was once more –verse 38- deeply moved and he came to the tomb, to the cave with the stone laid across. And he said, ‘Take away the stone’. ‘But, Lord,’ Martha, the sister of the dead man said, ‘by this time there is a bad odor for he’s been there for 4 days.’

Obviously Martha wasn’t expecting a resurrection. She had hope, she had faith but she didn’t know what Jesus was going to do. And Jesus said, Didn’t I tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God? She obviously had no concept of what the glory of God is, she’s about to see.

And so they took away the stone “…. and Jesus looked up and said, ‘Father, I thank you that you’ve heard me, I know that you always hear me, but now this I say for the benefit of the people standing here that they may believe that you sent me. When Jesus said this he called out in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out’, and the dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen and a cloth around his face. And Jesus to them, ‘Take off the grave clothes and let him go’.

This is a text where, if you look at it, this resurrection isn’t just a miracle. It’s got an edge to it. Jesus, I discern in this, is angry. There’s a holy anger, a holy indignation of what sin and death has done to the people he loves and he’s created.

You know, sometimes it’s good to be angry. When there is unjust, when there’s something evil that’s happening, we need to be angry. And this miracle has an edge to it. Jesus is raising this man, ‘Lazarus, come out’, he cries it in a loud voice. I think of it, it’s like he’s doing with a defiance of what he sees, of what death does on the planet earth.

I view it almost like an athlete that in those basketball tournaments, in the NCWA, you know, they don’t just dump the ball sometimes, they strum it and they stare…. No, I don’t think Jesus….. I think Jesus was slamming and dumping and stuffing death back in Satan’s faith, as if to say, not to my people, you’re not. This is my son, this is my friend, and death you will take your hands off of him in the name of Jesus.

Sometimes love gets angry. It gets angry not at the person, because our struggle isn’t to get flesh and blood, it’s anger against sin, it’s anger against evil, it’s anger against Satan. And there’s a certain eye of the tiger, you know, from the movies, there’s a certain eye of defiance saying, ‘I will not tolerate that death keep my people bound. In Jesus name, Lazarus, he didn’t have to say ‘in Jesus name’, he was Jesus, Lazarus, come out. And Lazarus came out.

I see in this passage a God of hope, a God who when everything looks closed up and impossible, it’s possible to say, ‘even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask’. It’s a hope that faces the future and the present, not with fear, not with anxiety, but in absolutely illogical optimism, that I know that even in the midst of everything I’m going through my redeemer lives. It’s a hope that says, ‘one thing I know, I am convinced of this. I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Be strong and take heart. Let your heart take courage and wait for the Lord and hope for the Lord.

We’ll talk a little bit about that word ‘hope’, and we’re going to look at some examples of it. The word ‘hope’ all too often is considered a really kind of wimpy word. I love it because people say, well, one can only hope. Well, do you think the Red Socks are going to win this? Well, I hope so. You know, there’s this kind of a wimpy thing.

The word hope in the Bible is a powerful word. The word hope in the Bible means I am not going to let myself be influenced by what my eyes see. I’m not going to let myself be overwhelmed bu my circumstances, because I know that even now, God can do anything that God wants to do.

And so that’s what I want to talk about. And we’re going to look really quickly at two examples of hope, two examples of the fact that God is the resurrection and the life. For instance turn to Romans 4 and both have to do with the same person: Abraham. Romans 4, starting in verse 17. Again we’re talking about Abraham who God called the ‘Father of Israel’ the first patriarch. God called him to leave everything, his home, his family, everything that was familiar to go to a place that he would later be shown. The Bible says that Abraham obeyed and went. He followed God even though he didn’t know where he was going. And God promised Abraham ‘You will have a son, and you’ll have descendants and the whole world will be saved through your descendants.’ Big promises.

How many people here know that God has made promises to you? And they’re not small promises, they’re big promises, but sometimes we don’t see how they’re going to be fulfilled. Verse 16:

“….Therefore the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by God’s grace and may be guaranteed to all of Abraham’s offspring, not only those who were of the law, but also those who were of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all, as it is written. I have made you father of many nations.”

He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed. “…. The God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not, as though they were”

Verse 18, “… Against all hope, Abraham, in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, so shall your offspring be. Without weakening in his faith he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old and that Sara’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God.”

Abraham had been promised he was going to have a son. He is a hundred years old and I know a guy who was a hundred years old, by the way, I play cribbage with him in a nursing home and he would just hold his cards way out and I just learned to see them and forget what I had seen.

Abraham was a hundred years old and God promised him, ‘You will have a son’, and his wife was 90 and sterile on top of it, couldn’t have kids, infertile. And yet he chose not to give in to desperation. I love a particular phrase that’s there, that it says, “… Abraham faced the fact that his body was as good as dead…” What verse is that in? 19. There it says:

“Abraham faced the fact that his body was as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old….”

Who isn’t unrealistic? Hope can face facts. Hope can face the fact Lazarus had been in the grave for 4 days. Hope can admit the truth. Abraham could say, ‘I’m a hundred years old, that’s the way it is. I don’t have to lie.’

You know, sometimes we feel like having faith means lying and saying, ‘No I’m not a hundred years old’. No, it’s true. You’re old, you should not be able to have kids. He faced facts. Sometimes when we are in tuff situations, sometimes we say, look, ok I’m going to face it. There is some difficult situation that’s going on around me. There is some odd stacked up against me.

You know, I believe Martha from the story of Mary, Martha and Lazarus, I think she was a very realistic woman probably. She was the responsible, older sister. She knew how to face facts, she was even thinking about the smell when they opened up the grave. So it’s not an issue of being unrealistic, it’s an issue of facing the fact and then after you face the fact you say, ‘but even now, I know that God will give you whatever you ask.’

And this verse says, Abraham, and pastor Roberto has a whole sermon about this, do you get to hear this. It’s remaining printed on the psyche of our church, people remember it. In verse 18 it says:

“…. Against all hope Abraham in hope believed…”

Having hope against hope. Expectation, positive optimistic expectation that something good will happen in spite of all the facts that I see, in spite of the reality, in spite of the situation. Hope against all hope chooses to believe. It’s a choice and it’s a courageous choice. So, I love those phrases and he was fully persuaded and he says that “…he believed and yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God….”

There may be situations where we don’t see the answer, we don’t see how things are going to get resolved. We don’t see any good in a situation. The Bible says, in the midst of that situation Abraham chose to believe and to give glory to God.

Now, there’s a verse that says, we need to give thanks in all things. Now, I don’t believe that means we have to give thanks for all things. I have a friend who died of drug overdose, couple of weeks ago. Now, I don’t believe that the Bible teaches me that I have to give thanks for that. That’s not, I believe, part of my job description according to the Bible. That was not God’s will for that to happen in a specific sense. But the Bible does say we give thanks in all things.

It means, in the midst of it I know that Jesus is the resurrection and the life. In the midst of it I know that even now God will give him anything he asks. In the midst of it I know my redeemer lives. In the midst of tragedy, in the midst of darkness we know who is on our side. And we give thanks and we give thanks in the midst of it.

And Abraham in the midst of his uncertainty was able to give glory to God and to believe in the God who calls things that are not as though they were. He just knows, God made a promise to me that I will have a son in the spirit by faith, I have a son. It will be done. And it was that same faith that allowed him when the time came, to sacrifice his son. He believed and I believe in a God who can even raise the dead.

Abraham against all hope, in hope believed and gave glory to God. He didn’t waver but was strengthened. Hope is a strength. Hope is the key, I believe, of strong people, of resilient people.

In our congregation here before us and also on Sunday mornings, I know dozens, I would even say hundreds of people, who have faced overwhelming tragedies and difficulties in their lives and they come forward on a regular basis and they cry their heart out to God. I use a phrase, think of it, you know sometimes when you cry it can leave you feeling heavy and depressed and sad and kind of a headache. But there’s another kind of tears, there are some tears that leave us feeling, no se, I don’t know, they leave us feeling lighter, they leave us feeling happier, stronger. They are tears of hope.

I want to believe that if you look at those tears under a microscope they’ll have a different chemical structure from bad tears, that they have the DNA of hope, I don’t know. Do we have a chemical engineer, a chemical neuroscientist, researcher? The DNA of hope. They are tears that leave us hopeful, they’re tears that leave us saying ‘todo lo puedo en Cristo que me fortalece’. They’re tears that leave me saying, ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’. I know that this is not the ends, yo se que mi redentor vive. I know that my redeemer lives. I’m more than a conqueror through Christ who loves me. They’re tears of hope.

I believe Abraham shed tears, but they weren’t tears of desperation, or of anger, but they were tears of faith, they were tears that gave glory to God, they’re tears that say ‘even now I know he’s in charge of my life’.

And I have seen and I know, we have seen in this church just hundreds of people whose lives get put together, who come up from the ashes, who are clothed with glory, I mean, literally you see the glory of God shining from them. And you think of all that they’ve been through, where does that come from? It comes from hope. It comes from the courage of hope. It says, ‘I know that God is with me and I know that he’s going to be with me today, he’s going to be with me tomorrow and even though there’s pain, there’s optimism, there’s strength and that’s hope.

Hebrews, chapter 6, one more text on hope. Again talking about Abraham, Hebrews 6:13, again we’re talking about God big promise to Abraham, that looked impossible to be fulfilled:

“…When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, saying ‘I will surely bless you and give you many descendants’, and so after waiting patiently Abraham received what was promised.”

Again, a key parts of hope is waiting patiently. In fact, in Spanish the word ‘esperar’ means hope and it means wait. It’s the same word. There’s a reason for that. Because hope waits for something you don’t yet have and you’re willing to wait for it because you’re convinced it’s coming. Verse 16:

“….Men swear by someone greater than themselves and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all arguments and because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose, very clear to the airs of what was promised, he confirmed with an oath, and God did this so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we, who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us, may be greatly encouraged…”

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the intersanctuary behind the curtain where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever in the order of melchisadech.

Hope is not a wimpy thing. Now, I learned a great word in Spanish from a brother of the church here, the word ‘blandengue’ in Spanish, it seems to me like ‘mushy dough’. We think of hope as something mushy, something fuzzy. Hope is something firm, it something solid. It’s something I can stand on. When everything else in the world seems to be shaking, hope stays firm, it doesn’t change.

Two images, or three images are given to us in this text. One, in the Bible, in the Old Testament, if you were a criminal and maybe you had killed someone by accident and a relative of that person is angry at you, was chasing you down to try to seek revenge against you, there’s a way you could try to be safe. You could run into the courtyard, the temple, and there was an altar that would have four horns on it, four horns on each end of the altar, and you could run in, hopefully when there’s no fire on that altar and you could through yourself over it and grab on to both of the horns of the altar. So literally, I’ll show you……

The meaning of that is that you’re seeking sanctuary over that altar, and they couldn’t kill you while you were there. Of course, if you had done something bad enough they would just rip you off there and kill you somewhere else. But at least while you’re there, you’re safe. So, what are you going to do? You’re going to hold on to the holds of that altar as hard as you can and when you try to pull you off, you’re not going to let go easy. That’s the image that’s given to us here. That hope is something we flee to take hold of, because without that hope, then there’s this feeling, we loose our strength. Hope is our salvation, it’s hoping in Jesus to do good even when I can’t see how he’s going to do it. It’s grabbing at the image of hurling ourselves over that altar and grabbing on to the horns, and saying ‘God, I’m grabbing on to your promise and I’m not going to let go because you’re faithful to fulfill it’.

You do not lie and that’s the foundation of my life. We live in a relativistic age where everything is seen as relative, everything is seen as changing, truth even isn’t a firm thing. As Christians we don’t believe that. We believe that the word of God is true, not just true for me it’s absolutely true. It’s true for me here, it’ll be true tomorrow. It was true a thousand years ago, it’s true in other countries, in cultures, in situations, it’s a place I can stand because I hope in the promises that God has given, and he does not lie to me. The horns of the altar, this hope is considered an anchor for our soul.

How many people feel like you’ve been through some storms? And you’ve seen boats in those storms getting battered around, and you can get drifted away. Hope is the anchor, it keeps me firm, it keeps me solid where I am, because I know God will fulfill his purpose for me, even when times are hard, even when there’s wind and waves, that doesn’t move, it doesn’t shake. There’s one more image. Hope is like the horns of the altar. Hope is the anchor of my soul.

There’s one more and it’s one I have never really noticed before, but I want to notice it here. It’s in verse 19, it says that it enters, “hope enters the inter sanctuary behind the curtain where Jesus who went before us has entered on our behalf”.

When there’s hope, there is an awesome, it means we’re actually entering into a holy space. The inter sanctuary in the temple was the place where the visible glory of God, the Shicaina of God in the form of a glowing fire and smoke dwelled over the altar. Jesus went in there on our behalf and opened up the way for us by his blood.

When we have hope there is an intimacy with God. In the middle of the storm, when we’re fleeing from things that are all around us, there is a powerful, palpable intimacy with the living God.

And I want to invite the musicians up, and end again by emphasizing that hope is the action and the choice of strong men and women who believe in a strong God. There’s a book that recently came out, that I haven’t read a word of it, but I love the title: “The audacity of hope”. Now, I’m not recommending any political candidate, but I love that title: “The audacity of hope”.

Hope is audacious. Hope chooses to believe in the impossible because God makes all things possible. I put it this way: hope is a loving defiance of an unacceptable present reality. Situation may be dark, the situation may be evil, but even now I know that God will give Jesus anything he asks. I refuse to accept things the way they are.

Now, many of all, I’d say all of us, tend to be rebellious. It’s just, people just are rebellious, we just tend to be that way. Now, that you’re in God, rebel against the evil one, rebel against evil circumstances. The audacity of hope, courageous, audacious, unthinkable confidence that says to Jesus, even when all hope seems buried and sealed in the tomb, I know that even now….. and I may weep tears along with you but they’re tears that have the DNA of hope, they’re tears of confidence, they’re tears that leave me knowing that my redeemer lives and that he knows the plans he has for me, plans to give me a hope and a future.

Yo se muy bien los pensamientos que tengo para con vosotros, planes para bien y no para mal, para darle el fin que esperáis.

I know very web the plans i have for you, plans for good and not for evil, plans to give you a hope and a future.

Now, I encourage you to lay hold of that hope tonight. Grab it. Grab it in your heart. It will get you through this time. You will come through it. You will be stronger and you will be victorious.

God says, Lazarus come forth, and he came forth. We serve a great God, but he invites us to activate it in our lives to that hope.

Let’s pray together. I invite you to stand up. If there’s anyone, as the worshipers sing a final song, if there’s anyone who wants prayer in a special way tonight, I just invite you to come forward and I would invite different people to come forth and pray, people just… to pray for the folks to come forward, and we’re just going to take a minute in the presence of God.

Father, in Jesus’ name we come before, and we thank you Lord, that you are the resurrection and the life. He who believes in you, even though he dies and whoever lives and believes in you will never die. I thank you, Jesus, that hope in you is the anchor of our soul, Lord God. It’s the horns on the altar, Lord God. We hold on to hope, we hold on to you today, because you are the answer that we seek for, God. I pray in Jesus’ name for my brothers and sisters who may be going through storms at this time. We don’t see how that stone can be rolled away from the sealed tomb, Lord that you would activate an audacious hope in them tonight, Lord God.

Father, I thank you that you are the living God. I pray we would give glory to you in all circumstances, that we would not give in to the language of despair and hopelessness, but that we would speak the language, Lord God, of glory to you, Lord God. I pray there’ll be a hope that enters us in behind the curtain where your Shicaina dwells Lord God, where you went before us. We hope in you, Jesus. We hope in you. We trust in you. We’re confident of this, that we will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. We take heart and we hope in you and as the worshippers sing, anyone who just wants to come forward, we just invite you to come forward for prayer now.


Sermon delivered by Gregory Bishop taped April 14, 2007 at Congregation Lion of Judah Listen | View (100K) | View (400K)

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