Does Jesus Hope?
I’ve been meaning to write this post for about a month now and am just now getting around to it. If you’ve been a reader for some time, you know that it is rare when I don’t have several choices of topics to pick from each week. And for the life of me, I don’t understand how the topics just keep on coming – but many of you have attributed it to divine revelation and I’m not arguing with your assessment. Anyway, this question has been on my mind and I finally decided that I needed to address it – but only after giving this topic some serious thought.
For the past several months, we have been inviting friends to attend church with us at the Saturday late afternoon service. They have been heavily involved in youth groups throughout the years, both are Christ followers and the husband, a rather close friend of mine, is an engineering type of guy who asks more questions on any given topic than you can imagine. He’s just one of those men who wants to completely understand as much as he can on any given subject.
Against this backdrop, the four of us were attending church about a month ago and a church staff member was preaching for the first time. It was a rather good message and somewhere during the course of her delivery, she made the comment that, “Jesus hopes that…” My friend leaned over to me and asked if I thought that Jesus really hoped anything…
At first I was caught a little off guard but it became increasingly apparent that he was very serious with his inquiry. He based his question on the assumption that since Jesus is God, and God is omniscient (all knowing), then why would Jesus hope for anything? He already knows the answer to everything and how people will ultimately react in every situation. Therefore, there wouldn’t be any need for Jesus to hope – He already has “seen” the outcome… before it even happens.
After all, the definition of hope is: “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen…” and an omniscient God wouldn’t have a need for hope. I wanted to make sure that I was processing this in a theologically correct way and so I consulted several pastor friends of mine and they have now all weighed in. The consensus is that the only time that Jesus could have hoped was when He was on earth, as a man, and had given up what we refer to as the “prerogatives of deity.”
What this means is that while Jesus was among us, He retained his deity, but gave up the foreknowledge and other “advantages” consistent with His position as the Son of God. For example, He stated that He didn’t know when the Father would do certain things and revealed to us that He came, not to do His own will, but the will of the Father.
But there is one time that the Bible addresses a prayer that seems to involve the idea that Jesus may be hoping for something to happen. And that is our verse for the evening. We are told, by the good Dr. Luke, writer of the third gospel, that Jesus asks His Father for a consideration. Jesus says, in Luke 22:42, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Jesus was referring to the act of the crucifixion – was Jesus hoping that the Father would come up with a different plan to atone for the sins of the world? It would seem that Jesus was asking for His Father to look at alternatives. Maybe, He was HOPING there was another way. But the Father was not to be dissuaded.
Our just God knew that the price had to be paid – and He loved us enough and was compassionate enough toward us that He sent His own Son to pay the price for all mankind. That is incomprehensible to our feeble minds. But it does show that the possibility exists that at one point in His earthly life, Jesus may have hoped for a different outcome.
My encouragement this evening is that God doesn’t want us to stop hoping for a better life and a deeper relationship with Him. Jesus Christ, and His church, are the HOPE of the world. That means that as Christ followers, we are Plan A to advance the kingdom on earth – and there is no Plan B. My prayer is that together we may successful in our effort. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…