About Jesus   Steve Sweetman

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Prisoners Of Hope


In Zechariah 9:12 God says that Israel was a “prisoner of hope”.  I think Christians are “prisoners of hope” as well.  The more you live for Jesus, the more you’ll know this to be true.


I admire the apostle Paul.  If I had a hero apart from Jesus, it would be Paul.  I’m so insignificant in comparison to him.  Of course, Paul’s success was due to the fact that he lived as a servant.  He humbled himself, even unto death, following in the footprints of his Lord.  


I find it interesting to study Paul’s writings to see how he viewed his life on earth.  I think he saw himself as a “prisoner of hope”, caught between heaven and earth, between a needy humanity and the Lord Jesus.  He wanted to escape the depravity around him and be with Jesus, yet if staying on earth would help his brothers in Christ, he’d gladly stay (Philippians 1:23-24).  His only reason for living was to serve Jesus.


We might think Paul was always on cloud nine, always in control, always full of faith and courage, but that wasn’t always so.  At times he was depressed, so depressed that he wanted to die.  Some psychologists might suggest he was suicidal at times.  2 Corinthians 1:5 sheds some light on this.  Here’s what Paul said.  “We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life.”  Do you see what I mean?  Paul and his friends “despaired of life”.  That tells me they didn’t want to live at times. They had a hard time facing the light of a new day during those tough days.


Paul also said in 1 Corinthians 15:19 that “if only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.”  Do I have to explain?  Okay, I will. Paul wasn’t always happy.  The trials he and his friends went through were numerous and difficult.  If there was no hope beyond this present life for Paul and his friends, we should shake our heads and pity these men for such a waste of their lives.  They should have just ate, drank, and enjoyed life because once life is over that’s it, but we know that’s not it.  Paul’s hope was in the realities of spending eternity with Jesus.  Someday he would escape his "body of death" as he called it (Romans 7:24), but until then he was a “prisoner of hope”. 


Paul certainly wasn’t laying up treasures here on earth, but treasures in heaven, just as Jesus taught.  His concern for this life was minimal.  He lived to serve those Jesus had joined him to.  Paul wasn’t always happy, but he was always hopeful. 


I know we all have different ministries. We’re not all Pauls.  That being said, to one degree or another, we too are “prisoners of hope”.  If we don’t feel this imprisonment on occasion, I’d suggest we’re too much in love with this world and not enough in love with Jesus.   


Of  course Jesus is the prime example for everything we need to learn.  He endured the tremendous torture of the cross because of  the joy that was set before Him (Hebrews 12:2).  Jesus was a “prisoner of hope” too, especially so while hanging on that cross.  The future joy He saw while being executed was the joy of you and I being with Him throughout eternity.  Paul tells us very clearly that we are to have the same mind as Jesus in this respect (Philippians 2:5).  The mindset that Paul spoke of was one of living in humility and service for Jesus in this life, while waiting for a better future in the next life.  The world’s idea of instant gratification isn’t Biblical thinking.  The gratification we seek should be  the smile we see on the face of Jesus as we find ourselves as “prisoners of hope” in a world that so desperately needs Him.    

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