I grew up on a farm. Later the farm was sold to a farmer who used the farm solely for the cultivation of maize. When I visited the farm recently after many years, there were only ruins, with weeds so high that one couldn’t risk getting out of the vehicle for fear of snakes. Where the bathroom was once located, there now stands a large tree. One remembers how the house used to look, neat and surrounded by a well-kept garden. But dominant are the memories of the people with whom you shared the house. I think of my parents, their friends, how I sat and talked with my grandpa on the stoep. All people who died long ago. I think about the fact that my body will also have to die, that it also will be destroyed. What is there to hope for?
Shortly before his crucifixion Jesus said to his disciples: My children, I shall not be with you very much longer. And now I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. If you have love for one another, then everyone will know that you are my disciples.” “Where are you going, Lord?” Simon Peter asked him. “You cannot follow me now where I am going. … Do not be worried and upset,” Jesus told them. “Believe in God and believe also in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s house, … And after I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to myself, so that you will be where I am (John 13:33 – 14:3).
Later Paul writes that only three things will last: Meanwhile these three remain: faith, hope, and love; and the greatest of these is love (1 Cor. 13:13). Jesus mentions two of these three gifts of grace to his disciples in the above-mentioned talk. He encourages them to believe: Believe in God and believe also in me. He emphasises his love for them, and also that their love for one another will be the most important evidence that they are his disciples: As I have loved you, so you must love one another. If you have love for one another, then everyone will know that you are my disciples. The third gift of grace, namely hope, is implied by Jesus. Eternal life with God is the very best foundation of our hope: There are many rooms in my Father’s house. There is enough space in God’s house for all his children. Jesus says that He will depart, but He consoles his disciples with the hope of his return: I will come back and take you to myself, so that you will be where I am. We reside in bodies which are temporary, like living in a tent. Our hope is that, although our earthly bodies will perish, there is an eternal life: For we know that when this tent we live in, our body here on earth, is torn down, God will have a house in heaven for us to live in, a home he himself has made, which will last forever (2 Cor. 5:1).
In Revelation John writes about the city on which we place our hope, the dwelling-place of God our Father and his children: The city has no need of the sun or the moon to shine on it, because the glory of God shines on it, and the Lamb is its lamp. But nothing that is impure will enter the city, nor anyone who does shameful things or tells lies. Only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of the living will enter the city (Rev. 21: 23 – 27).
The new city is for those who have accepted Jesus, the Lamb, in faith as their personal Saviour. It is for those who love one another and thereby attest to the fact that they are disciples of Jesus. It is for those who focus their hope on the dwelling which Jesus prepared for them. Keep alert and set your hope completely on the blessing which will be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed (1 Pet. 1:13). Hope is the secure anchor granted to us by our faithful God: Let us hold on firmly to the hope we profess, because we can trust God to keep his promise (Heb. 10:23).
We thank You, God, that You are our hope, our only hope. You yourself came to give us hope through Jesus, who came to live amongst us and free us from our sins. Amen.