Hope For A New Beginning

Hope For A New Beginning

Last week, we celebrated as we remember that our God is not dead, He’s surely alive!  We learned how the resurrection of Jesus Christ gives us hope, life, and power.  Last week’s episode of AD portrayed that dark, final day in the life of Jesus.  However, it ended on the greatest cliffhanger in all of human history; the resurrection of Jesus!

Jesus had warned His disciples that He was going to die as well as the type of death that He was going to suffer.  He warned them that He was going to leave them, but that He would rise again to life on the third day (Matthew 16:21-28, Mark 8:31-32, Luke 18:31-33).  Jesus was clear that He was going ahead of His disciples to prepare the way and a place for them and it was, in fact, for their benefit that He was leaving them (John 16:7).

John 13:33-38
33 “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

36 Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?”

Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.”

37 Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”

38 Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!

John 14:1-7
14 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”

5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

John 14:25-29
25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

28 “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.

Despite the many warnings that Jesus gave His disciples regarding His death and resurrection, the disciples still weren’t ready for it.

Many of us can relate to how they felt.  Many of us have had loved ones that have passed away.  Though warned by physicians and knowing that their death neared, we still could never have fully prepared for it.  When that day came, it tore us apart and we’ve never been the same since.

Jesus’ disciples had left everything to follow Jesus and anticipated that He would establish Himself as King over the nation of Israel in their day and age in a literal and physical sense by overthrowing their Roman rulers.  They completely surrendered their lives to Jesus and their purpose was found in Him alone.  Imagine how they felt when their hopes and anticipation fell out from under them and they were left alone after the death of Jesus.  They were fearful for their very lives expecting that they would be the next to be put to death.  Judas was so broken and remorseful for his actions that he committed suicide.  Peter was now living with deep regrets as his last interaction with Jesus before His death was denying that he even knew Jesus.  Thomas couldn’t make sense of what Jesus meant by the place where Jesus was going and how His disciples would get there.

Even after Jesus rose again to life and were with Him physically and personally, some of His disciples still doubted.  This is a standing example of just how confused and troubled they truly were.

Matthew 28:16-17
16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.

Then, in John chapter 20, we find this account:

* Video – Episode 2 *

Maybe you’ve experienced that same feeling that they did that you simply couldn’t find a way to grasp, understand, or believe.  Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase:
– It’s cancer
– I just don’t love you anymore
– We’re letting you go
– There’s nothing more that we can do
– We regret to inform you
– We’re calling to collect funds
– There’s been an accident involving your

That phrase, that moment that changed your life forever.  That’s exactly how those who followed Jesus felt.  They felt alone, helpless, confused, afraid, and uncertain.  Perhaps you can relate right now.  That aching question consumes your every thought and keeps you awake at night, “Now what?”

1. Accept

You can’t unbake burnt food, you can’t uncut hair, you can’t go back into history and make different choices in life.  We have to somehow, someway accept the facts of our current reality.  Even Abraham, a great man of faith, acknowledged the fact that his body was as good as dead and so was Sarah’s womb regarding God’s promise to make him the father of many nations.

Our reality is our reality.  Jesus tried over and over again before His death to make His disciples aware of this soon-coming fact.  Jesus didn’t deny that His death would happen, He bluntly admitted it and accepted it.  Jesus also did not deny His emotions concerning this soon-coming fact.  He told them on the night that He was betrayed that His soul was overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death (Matthew 26:38).  Emotions are real and should not be denied.  In these moments, it’s OK to not be OK.  It’s OK to be broken and afraid.

2. Trust

Even though Jesus was honest regarding His emotions about dying, Jesus still chose to do the will of His Heavenly Father and lived by faith.  Jesus did not choose to allow His emotions to control Him nor make His decisions for Him (Matthew 26:39).  Jesus trusted His Heavenly Father completely and wholly.  Jesus knew that His death was temporary.  So also, we must trust God knowing that though we may be broken right now, He is with us and will heal us.  Though we don’t understand right now, we trust His word that says that He will work all things together for our good (Romans 8:28).

Many times throughout the Psalms, we find people writing sincerely about their emotions, doubts, fears, frustrations, pain, and confusion.  The psalm usually starts with the writer crying out honestly about their feelings, but then ends with the resolve to trust God and a reminder of praise for who God is.  David writes:

Psalm 42:5
Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

When dedicating the temple for God, David wrote the song of worship that we find in Psalm 30.  Within it, he reminds us of a truth that he was well aware of.

Psalm 30:5b
weeping may stay for the night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.

Psalm 143:8
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.

If we learn anything from the resurrection of Jesus, it should be that the facts of our immediate circumstances can be changed.  Yes, it is true that Jesus died on the cross and was buried and sealed away in a tomb.  However, it is also true that Jesus rose again to life three days later!  Yes, it is true that Lazarus was dead for four days and his corpse was rotting away.  However, it is also true that Jesus is the resurrection and Lazarus lived again!

No matter where we find ourselves in life and how far gone things seem to be, we find hope as we trust in God.  Things may not go the way in which we desired or planned.  In fact, God’s word reminds us of this truth.

Proverbs 19:21
Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

Jeremiah 29:11-13
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Proverbs 3:5-6
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

We face the facts of the dark circumstances we find ourselves within, but we do so with hope that the piercing light of morning and a time of our rejoicing is on its way!  We can trust God and His plans and purposes even when we don’t understand what He’s doing!

3. Surround

Following the death of Jesus, we find the disciples together.  When we find ourselves in the “Now what?” times of life, it is important to surround ourselves with people who genuinely love us and want us to fulfill God’s purposes for our lives.  No, they won’t have our next steps figured out for us.  The disciples were clueless as to what the next steps were for them.  However, they knew that they needed each other!  Something awesome happens when we’re together, though.

John 20:19
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”
When we gather together with our brothers and sisters in Christ in the midst of our suffering, God’s presence is there with us as well.  We find strength and encouragement from one another.  Even if we don’t have the answers that our hearts long for, we know that there are others who love us and are there to walk with us through our struggles.  We need each other and not just on Sundays!  We need each other and are called to live our lives together and not to neglect meeting together.
Jesus said that He was going ahead of His disciples to prepare the way and a place for them.  When God goes before us, it can be a time of uncertainty for us as we feel alone.  However, in time, we can be sure that God will return to guide us, to restore us, and work things all together for our good.
Thomas was left doubting his friends that Jesus had physically appeared to them for a week.  However, Jesus then also appeared to Thomas and allowed him to touch his pierced hands and side.  (John 20)
Some of the disciples went back to what they knew, to what they were familiar with.  They went fishing
John 21:4-19
4 Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.5 He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”

“No,” they answered.

6 He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

7 Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. 8 The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards.[a] 9 When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.

10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.

15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”

Jesus reassured them that nothing had changed regarding their decision to follow Him.  This was still their mission and purpose in life.  The way in which this was practically lived out had changed dramatically, but their purpose in life had not changed.  In time, we often begin to see and understand what God was doing in our lives as we look back.  Things were beginning to make sense for His disciples as Jesus continued to appear to them, teach them, and direct them.
This morning, we are encouraged to accept the fact regarding our current circumstances, to trust that as we remain faithful to God, He will work this together for our good and end our season of darkness, and to surround ourselves with our brothers and sisters in Christ as we live life together as God had planned.  This morning, Jesus still calls out to each of us today with hope for a new beginning saying, “Follow me!”