Their lives were hard. Day after day, they endured harsh labor as they made bricks. Their bosses overlooking every step, and their quota seeming unrealistic and never ending. They cried out for relief and hoped that one day it would come. Their hope fueled by a forefather, who by faith, requested his remains be carried with them to the promised land. Generation after generation heard this request and cherished the idea it would come true someday. Hope continued through the generations.
Hope, in many ways, is fuel for our soul. It is what drives us forward. Hope of something better coming pushes us through the rough and challenging times. When our bank account is empty or we’re being slaughtered in the gossip circles, it is our hope which propels us forward.
For the nation of Israel, their hope was in Joseph’s request to carry his remains with them as they left Egypt for the promised land. Hebrews 11:22 says it was Joseph’s faith which gave him this hope.
- 22 By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions concerning the burial of his bones.
Because of his faith, Joseph knew the Lord would bring Israel out of Egypt. He understood he would not see Israel’s deliverance, but he knew it would come when the time was right. So, Joseph gave instructions for his burial. It was Joseph’s instructions which gave the Israelites hope for generations. Basically, they were placing their hope in a dead man’s faithful instructions.
We, as Christ followers, have something better. Our hope is not in a forefather’s faith, but in a living Savior. 1 Peter 1:3-9 encourages:
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Max Lucado writes:
Others offer life, but no one offers to do what Jesus does—to reconnect us to his power. But how can we know? How do we know that Jesus knows what he’s talking about? The ultimate answer, according to his flagship followers, is the vacated tomb. Did you note the words you just read? “A living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.” In the final sum, it was the disrupted grave that convinced the maiden Christians to cast their lots with Christ. “He appeared to Cephas [Peter], and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time” (1Co 15:5–6).
Can Jesus actually replace death with life? He did a convincing job with his own. We can trust him because he has been there.
He’s been to Bethlehem, wearing barn rags and hearing sheep crunch. Suckling milk and shivering against the cold. All of divinity content to cocoon itself in an eight-pound body and to sleep on a cow’s supper. Millions who face the chill of empty pockets or the fears of sudden change turn to Christ. Why?
Because he’s been there.
He’s been to Nazareth, where he made deadlines and paid bills. To Galilee, where he recruited direct reports and separated fighters. To Jerusalem, where he stared down critics and stood up against cynics.
We have our Nazareths as well—demands and due dates.
Jesus wasn’t the last to build a team; accusers didn’t disappear with Jerusalem’s temple. Why seek Jesus’ help with your challenges? Because he’s been there. To Nazareth, to Galilee, to Jerusalem.
But most of all, he’s been to the grave. Not as a visitor, but as a corpse. Buried amidst the cadavers. Numbered among the dead.
Heart silent and lungs vacant. Body wrapped and grave sealed.
The cemetery. He’s been buried there.
You haven’t yet. But you will be. And since you will, don’t you need someone who knows the way out?
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