I have this hope.
Hope. We all hope in or for things. Some of us “hope” our favorite team wins the game, that the weather cooperates for that BBQ we’ve planned or that spring is here and we can put away the snow shovel. This is wishful thinking. Some of us are “hoping” that our loved one’s health will improve, or that the elusive job will materialize, or that our family member will return from the life that they are wasting. We use the word hope frequently and with varied degrees of fervor and meaning. Some of our hopes are for trivial things and others reflect the deepest desire of our being. It is said that we can last a certain number of days without food or water – but none without hope.
Holy week for me is a sacred time and a time I spend pondering a lot about hope. I meditate on the state of my heart, my brokenness and need for a Saviour. The ultimate sacrifice made for me by one who knew no sin yet took all of mine and the world upon Himself. I envision myself as Barabbas, a murderer being held awaiting his just reward and sentence. Sitting in a cell waiting…..for death to come. He knew the laws that he had broken and what his fate was. I imagine what it would be like sitting in that cold dark cell, the terror, the regret, the realization that this was the end. Or was he still rebellious, still hating and denying his wrongdoing. Barabbas hears the sounds of angry voices outside demanding justice. He hears them yelling “Crucify Him!” over and over. His stomach rolls, he is sweating and can hardly breathe. He hears soldiers coming towards his cell and he cowers in the corner. He has never been so afraid. The soldiers arrive at his cell, he hears the sound of the lock being turned and the door opens. He cannot look at them – the men who have come to take him on his final walk, and then he hears these words “Barabbas, you are released. You are free to leave.” What? Is he hallucinating? The soldiers become impatient – “Get out of here, go.” “You are free, the one they call Jesus has taken your place. He is to be crucified.” Jesus has taken my place? Imagine that…I wonder what Barabbas did after hearing those words? Did he high tail it out of the city and never come back? Did he stay and watch what happened to the one who took his place? Did he go on to live a life that was honorable or did he go back to his old ways? I don’t know for sure– but I can imagine the hope that burned in his heart as he ran out of that holding cell. A chance to live again, an opportunity to see another sunrise, to make restitution. To truly live life well. It does me good to put myself in Barabbas shoes. Me, a sinner, condemned to death being released from my chains because JESUS took my place.
Yes, this season takes me to this place, and causes me to reflect deeply. But there is another reason that this week causes me to pause and reflect . It was on a Good Friday many years ago I knelt in a windy country cemetery beside a little white casket and wept over loss. The loss of what could have been, of potential not realized, of dreams disappointed. A precious daughter Emily Jayne. The longest walk I have ever taken was the walk away from that gravesite. The loss of a child produces deep pain, it is a sacred wound that I bear and although the years have softened it and healing has come there will always be a scar. But I have this hope….
My husband gave me this picture a few months after that Good Friday goodbye. Jesus with nail pierced hands holding a little lamb, with a border in pink for her sweetness and gray for sorrow.
But I have this hope…..
My concordance says that hope is to desire something with confident expectation of its fulfillment.
Yes because of those nail pierced hands, because Jesus took my place and I have placed my everything on that finished work on the cross. Because of Jesus words “It is finished” I have this blessed hope. Because the grave could not hold Him I have this hope. Because He is a risen Saviour I have this hope. A hope that has carried me and sustained me. A hope that gives me purpose and compassion for those that don’t yet know it. A hope for an eternity of no goodbyes. A hope of a grand reunion. A hope of seeing my Jesus with nail pierced hands and a little girl named Emily.