In the Grip of Hope: A predicament that demands presence.
Updated: Jul 27, 2020
Hope is central to the Christian life. We live in hope, and we live to extend hope that is viable and tangible, for that is what hope is. Hope that walks our streets in your feet and mine, just as we find our hope in the one who walked the streets of Palestine, to help others as he does us.
I am not sure anyone can spell out all that the apostle Paul was thinking about when he said, ‘But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son’ (Gal 4:4) or for that matter what apostle John was grappling with when he said, ‘And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth’ (John 1:14). But this much is plain for all to see:
In Jesus, human predicament was met by divine presence appropriately and adequately.
In a time such as this when we are at the tipping point of what is becoming increasingly a global crisis, the question to us as Jesus followers is simply this. ‘how might we be present with the hurting and the helpless so as to be of service to them offering them hope, and help as Jesus would, if he walked our streets in our feet’?
Predicament demands presence.
For any predicament to be dealt with appropriately and adequately one must be present. Predicament demands presence and in Jesus, human predicament was met by divine presence. It should, therefore, come as no surprise that Jesus went about doing good.
The Gospel accounts of Jesus are full of reports of Jesus taking the initiative to reach out to those who needed help. And he did it all in love.
Sometimes the good he did came at the expense of him skipping lunch (John 4), risking defilement and ostracisation, which is a big deal for the Jew (Matt 8). He even risked incurring the wrath of the religious and political leaders of his day so that he could do for humanity what only he could - save us from our sin, and so embraced death - even death on the cross (1 Tim 1:15; Phil 2:8).
To be clear, the Gospels only give us a glimpse of what Jesus did. Yet through it we see clearly that everything Jesus did was for human good, and in Jesus’ view was, ‘the father’s will’, and ‘his daily bread’. Is that not what we see transpire between Jesus and his disciples when they brought him food to eat? “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.” (John 4:32-34 cf. 6:38).
Some might argue that the work God gave for Jesus to do was to save humanity from eternal damnation. That is correct, Jesus came ‘to seek and save the lost’ (Matt 18:11; Luke 19:10). But let us not therefore conclude that Jesus is not concerned about how life is lived this side of eternity or that sparing humanity an eternity of hell fire was his only concern. That will be a terrible mistake. There is no doubt that Jesus was single minded about going to Jerusalem, to die on the cross for the for the sins of the world (Luke 9, esply vs.51). But, that does not mean he came only to die. Jesus did not come into the world merely to die on the cross, he came so that we might have life! (John 10:10)
Jesus’ concern for the way we live our lives, this side of eternity, was not eclipsed by his passion for us to be with him forever, rather he went about doing good because that is what life in God’s kingdom is meant to be - good.
And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
Jesus - ‘the child who is born is also the Son who was given’ (Isaiah 9:6), for all humanity to be saved went about doing good so that we can catch a glimpse of what life in his kingdom will eventually be like. It is also for this very reason that Jesus taught his disciples to seek to do the will of God - on earth - now (Matt 6:10).
Jesus wants us to live today in the light of what will be forever.
Take a moment, pause, and ask Jesus how he would like you to live this day? In as much as our human predicament was met by divine presence. Divine presence did not automatically set humanity on an automated correction course.
Divine presence found us in willing feet and outstretched arms.
Let us linger a while longer, at his side. Let us talk to him and heed to his counsel, and I am sure we will find a way forward. A way to be present with the hurting and the helpless so as to be of service to them offering them hope, and help as Jesus would, if he walked our streets in our feet.