Did Jesus hope for anything? We find no mention of it in the Gospels. For me, hope has been the engine moving me forward. I hope for flourishing relationships, fruitful projects, increased supply that frees my time, exciting new adventures. Hopes like these propel me beyond the dutiful and mundane. After experiencing dashed hope fresh hope starts me moving forward again. So, what are we to make of the silence about hope in Jesus’ life? I suggest that this is another area in which Jesus, by example, calls us to live differently.
Perhaps Paul understood. From a prison cell, facing possible execution, Paul expressed an “earnest expectation and hope, that I shall not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ shall even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.” (Philippians 1:20) He went on to say that to die and be with Jesus would be wonderful for him but to remain and labor for the Philippian believers would be better.
Paul often talked of the hope of resurrection life based on faith in Jesus. It distinguished Jesus’ followers (Acts 23:6; 24:15, 21; 26:6-8; 28:20; 1 Cor. 15:19; Tit. 1:2; 3:7). Paul knew it would be glorious, the completion of adoption as God’s children (Rom. 8:20-25; Col. 1:27). Peter and John also spoke of this future hope (1 Pet. 1:3-4, 13; 1 John 3:2-3). But Paul was clearly motivated by a hope for the exaltation of Christ as He turned everything from shame to glory in this life.
Jesus’ life fits the pattern of the two hopes. His future hope was not so much a hope as a memory and certainty, like knowing we’re headed back to the family home. He expressed the second in His unwavering determination to obey the will of His Father for His glory (John 7:18).
There’s a place for other hopes. Paul hoped to visit Rome on his way to Spain (Rom. 15:24), to remain in Corinth for a while (1 Cor. 16:7), and to spend time with Timothy in Ephesus (1 Tim. 3:14). Hopes like that can still flavor our lives, but they did not drive Jesus or Paul. The best driving engine in this life is the expectant hope that our lives in God are a string of encounters and opportunities for His glory.