Bible Study for March 12: Victorious Hope

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Matthew 8:5-13
Bucky Kennedy, evangelist

I’ve been in the ministry for over 30 years and in that time, I’ve had many experiences with folks facing critical circumstances. I’ve had to inform spouses of the death of their mate in the case of a tragic accident or sudden health issue such as a heart-attack or stroke. I’ve looked into the face of parents as I told them that their child had died in a tragic accident and sat with couples as one would confess unfaithfulness to the other. I’ve stood in the courtroom as parents watched a child sentenced to prison. I’ve walked with families fighting through alcohol and drug addictions. I’ve been in the room when men had to tell their wives about being let go at work.

In situations of incredible crisis, you can see the difference faith and hope make in the lives of those people who depend on it versus how folks with minimal to no understanding of faith and hope respond. In the absence of faith and hope the expectation of a future is severely diminished. Despair begins to rule with all its agents of agony that sometimes include anger, blame, anxiety, bitterness, and deep depression.

Biblical hope is the optimistic assurance that something will be fulfilled. It is a guaranteed hope not subject to change because this hope rests in the person of Jesus Christ. Hope in the New Testament is conveyed by the Greek word “elpis”, which means a “favorable and confident expectation” relating to the future.

People with a hope and faith in Jesus feel the pain of today’s tragedy, but they don’t lose the hope of tomorrow’s promise because of their relationship with Jesus Christ. Christian counselor and author JuneHunt explains the difference between the two in Biblical Counseling Keys to Hope …

Wrong Belief. “I am depressed over the deep disappointments in my life. They have robbed me of all joy. There’s no hope for my future, and there’s nothing I can do about it.”

Right Belief. “I admit I am depressed over the circumstances in my life, but Christ lives in me and He is my hope. I will rely on Him to renew my mind with His truth and renew my heart with His hope.”

In our study, we meet a Roman centurion seeking Jesus for help for the centurion’s very sick and hurting servant.

His expectation

Remember, biblical hope means a favorable and confident expectation.

There are at least two very critical elements to the centurion’s expectation worth noting. First, he is acting with urgency, not panic. He is like a man sure of the cure but unsure of the time his servant has left before the illness takes his life. The centurion was in a panic looking for options that might work but urgently seeking the answer he knew would work.

Secondly, he comes with humility. He is an officer in the Roman army but approaches Jesus with great respect. “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, fearfully tormented,” he says. By addressing Jesus as “Lord” this officer of the Roman army shows his respect and regard for Jesus. It is the respect of the lesser to the greater.

This hopeful expectation was a desperate man reaching out with desperate doubt but that of a compassionate man submitting himself in confident belief that Jesus is not intimidated by his servant’s condition and that Jesus can heal his servant.

Jesus’ response

“Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.””

The centurion’s humble faith was met with a positive response from Jesus. I believe Jesus is always ready to act on our behalf. But, we often approach Him with very little expectation, urgency, and faith. We often limit our hope to the miracles of yesterday. I call this a historical hope.

Psalm 46:1 tells us, “God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.”  Jesus is not bound to yesterday; He desires to be active in our needs today.

A lesson to learn

As you read verses 8-9 you hear a man of understanding, a spiritually minded man whose religion worked inside out. When he responded, “I am not worthy for you to come under my roof,” he wasn’t being ceremonially pretentious but acting out on true humility in relationship to what he believed about Jesus. He wasn’t just a professor of faith, but one who practiced it.

He was a man who understood authority and therefore understood what it was to be a steward of it and how to rightly use the powers authority entitled you to perform. This understanding confirms that the centurion wasn’t experimenting with alternative medicine but had an informed that faith that fueled his hope in the power of Jesus.

A warning to heed

In verses 10-12 Jesus confirms the centurion’s faith in a warning to the Jews who thought their relationship to Abraham would give them access to heaven. The centurion expressed faith in Jesus while many of the Jews were skeptical and doubtful Jesus was the Messiah.

Jesus warned that their lack of faith in Him would lead to their spending eternity in Hell. Jesus wanted them to know that knowledge about the Messiah was not the same as belief in Him as the Messiah.

A hope rewarded

Verse 13: “And Jesus said to the centurion, “Go; it shall be done for you as you believed.” And the servant was healed that very moment.”

A faith-driven hope is heaven’s blend to victory.

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