Imagine the hallway of a school. Two high schoolers are walking toward their 4th period Algebra II class, let’s call them Sarah and Beth, and they are discussing the math test they are about to take.
Sarah: “I hope I get a good grade on this test.”
Beth: “Me, too.”
A common scenario, and one that you have probably even participated in at some point in your own life. But, let’s imagine that we have the ability to rewind this scene to the days just before the test.
Sarah spent the weekend hanging out with her friends, sleeping in, and watching Netflix. Her backpack sat right where she left it on Friday afternoon when she got home from school. If you asked her, Sarah wouldn’t be able to tell you the last time she thought about algebra when she wasn’t in class, even though she has trouble with some of the concepts. She wakes up on Monday morning with a pit in her stomach about the algebra test.
Beth spent the weekend hanging out with her friends, sleeping in, and watching Netflix. However, Beth did set aside a couple of hours on Saturday and Sunday to study for the test on Monday. She’s been having some trouble with a few of the new concepts and she took the time to specifically rework some of her homework problems. She wakes up on Monday confident and ready for the test.
Read – Matthew 24:36-44
Both of the young women in our story have to take the same test. As they approached their classroom each expressed their hope for a good grade. Only one of the two had real hope.
This advent season it is easy to assume that this week of “Hope” is about the hope Jesus brought the world upon his birth. It is much bigger than that. We already know the story of Jesus birth, we don’t need to have hope for an unborn savior. Our hope is now on what is to come, when Christ comes again.
If you were to rewind a little in the Bible from our reading you would see a scene with Jesus surrounded by his disciples. As the disciples gathered around Jesus they were very curious about how they would know when he would return? What are the signs? When should we be ready? If you were to continue reading Matthew 24 and then on to Matthew 25 you would see that Jesus answers them by saying the same thing three times in a different way each time: “Be faithful.”
Why would a master communicator need to repeat the same message three times? Jesus repeats himself three times in such a short period of time because it was extremely important to him that there was no doubt about what he was saying.
The Bible makes it clear that salvation is freely given to those who believe. But hope? Real hope? The kind of hope that sustains you in your darkest hours? That kind of hope requires faithfulness.
Sing – O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
Almighty God, grant us in equal measure; Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. Hope in a Savior, Peace in our world, Joy in our hearts, and Love for our fellow man. In the name of Jesus Christ whose birth we celebrate this Advent season, Amen.