Hope – Encounters with Jesus

Everything changes when we meet Jesus. A moment with him can shift even the most resolute of situations and can thaw even the hardest of hearts. The Gospels are full of transformative encounters with Jesus: in boats, in crowds, at the table, on a hilltop. In Jesus, we have an unfailing reason to hope again, we can get our hopes up in him! As we move through these different gospel stories leading us up to Easter, let’s allow hope to return to us as we meet Jesus again.

1. Hope - In the eye of the storm

 Mark 4:35-41

Zak Robb - 7 Feb 2021

Caught in the swell of a storm, the disciples are terrified and cannot believe that Jesus is sleeping through it, apparently unconcerned. However, their fears are challenged and reversed by Jesus in a powerful and miraculous moment. What they learn about Jesus in this encounter and what we learn is that he is our hope in our storms, he is with us; our safe harbour, unafraid but more than that, he’s in charge; the one in whom we place our hope is able to still any storm raging about us.

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2. Hope - Dignity Restored

 Mark 5:25-34

Naomi Black - 14 Feb 2021

Hope in Jesus is hope that restores. In his encounter with this woman who touched his cloak, so strong was her faith that she believed she would be healed if she did, Jesus brings restoration to her. He restores her health where her body had been ravaged by suffering, he restores her dignity where illness had taken it from her but more than that, he stops with her. Not content just to heal anonymously, he needs to know who she is, restoring her dignity in her identity and calling her daughter. This is his desire for us too, not content to just deal with us anonymously, he wants to know us, to restore to us our dignity where it has been taken away.

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3. Hope - Freedom for the Outsider

 Luke 8:26-39

Aaron Elder - 21 Feb 2021

Jesus always goes to the edges, where others are afraid to go - it’s there you’re most likely to find him. Suffering severe mental turmoil is not something Jesus ignores or brushes under the carpet, he’s not afraid, nor does he make any sweeping judgements on the one in pain. He sees the man underneath the suffering and willingly disrupts the livelihood of a pig farmer in order to save this one man who has been left on the outside with no help for so long. Hope in Jesus is hope that goes to the edges, that sees right to the God-created heart of each of us, and that brings freedom.

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4. Hope - Fully Known

 John 6:4-30

Mae Moore - 28 Feb 2021

Jesus talks with a Samaritan woman, who was an outcast in society because of her past. Being a Samaritan, looked down upon by Jews, and a woman, she was not someone the disciples expected to see Jesus talking to. But Jesus goes far beyond our expectations or judgements and longs to meet with everyone. Not only that, but he knew everything about her; everything she ever did. He reveals this without condemning her, and he also sees beyond her history to her intellect and her potential: engaging in a theological conversation, revealing that he is the Messiah, and sending her out to bring a whole town to know Jesus. Like the Samaritan woman, we are fully known and seen by God – we have hope beyond the mistakes that we think might stop us from being used for his kingdom.

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5. Hope - Desperate Faith

 Luke 5:17-26

James Cant - 7 Mar 2021

Jesus heals a paralysed man whose friends were so desperate to get him to Jesus that they broke through a roof! Despite the fact he would have been seen as less than equal in society, Jesus not only forgives him and heals him, but first he calls him ‘friend’. The desperate faith of the friends is rewarded and the man’s own desperate situation is transformed. In times of desperation Jesus wants to bring hope in our internal life (forgiving our sins) and our external life (e.g. physical healing). Our response, like the paralysed man, is to praise God!

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6. Hope - Future Glory

 Matthew 17:1-6

Andy Harding - 14 Mar 2021

When Peter, James and John went up the mountainside with Jesus, they encountered him in a completely new way - they glimpsed his heavenly glory; his holy 'otherness'. They also saw him speaking with Elijah and Moses, great prophets and leaders from hundreds of years previous right to that day. In that moment, they saw the Jesus who has been present throughout history. He is our past, present and future hope. Their experience of hearing the voice of God affirming Jesus was clearly incredibly powerful and they fell facedown to the ground. The hope of God is a powerful thing. But Jesus says to them and to us 'Don't be afraid.'

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7. Hope - Like a Little Child

 Mark 10:13-16

Odele Harding - 21 Mar 2021

Jesus is the hope for those who are overlooked or feel unimportant. In Mark 9:33-37 Jesus already teaches the disciples to welcome the little children but in the space of one trip across the Jordan, the disciples have already forgotten this lesson and begin to rebuke families who were bringing their children to Jesus. Jesus raises the stakes, revealing that the kingdom of God itself ‘belongs to such as these’ – to all who are overlooked, feel unimportant, and those who have childlike faith.

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8. Hope - Beautiful Waste

 Mark 14:3-9

Tamsyn Radmall - 28 Mar 2021

When we recognise that we have hope in Jesus how do we respond? This woman lavished more than a year’s wages on Jesus, anointing him though she didn’t know what was to come; hadn’t even witnessed Jesus defeating sin on the cross. Yet she knew where her hope was, unlike some of those who had followed him. Hope in Jesus is worth wasteful sacrifice, and Jesus recognised this as so important and significant that he foresaw that her actions would be told alongside the preaching of the gospel throughout the world.

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