Dr. Chuck DeVane, Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
December 2, 2018
17 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: 18 "Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. 19 He will not quarrel or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets; 20 a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory; 21 and in his name the Gentiles will hope."
— Matthew 12:17-21, ESV
Matthew liked to write about fulfillment as he emphatically tried to convince the Jews that Jesus is the Messiah. But his Gospel holds out hope to Gentiles, too, especially at this juncture of the story. By now Jesus’ popularity had peaked, the Pharisees were preparing to hire a hit man, and the Lord is about to begin His long walk to the cross. Now the people must decide. Jesus is either a lunatic, a liar, or He is Lord. Upon which will you put your hope?
The theme for the first Sunday of Advent is the last word of our text: “Hope.” It is a word that means more in the original language than in our common English vernacular. Hope means maybe to most folks, but I confidently expect it carries more weight for those whose put their total trust and confidence in the Lord Jesus Christ.
To put hope in its proper perspective we need to clarify the meaning of a few other words in the passage as well. “Justice” (vs. 18 and 20) is literally “crisis,” an epoch or situation that sifts and divides until the final judgment is made. “Victory” (vs. 20) is “nikos,” a word appropriated by a certain shoe company. It means a win for you and total defeat for your enemies. “Gentiles” (vs. 18 and 21) is “ethnos,” which encompasses every ethnic group and nation in the world.
Overall, this text teaches us to put our hope in God, who comes to us in a crisis, separating the believers from the unbelievers, resulting in ultimate victory or final judgment for every woman, man, girl, and boy in every nation on the planet.
Do you have gospel hope?
Hope in God
Gospel hope is grounded in the God of the gospel. He is one. He is three. He is three in one, and all three persons of the one Godhead appear in this passage.
Isaiah is a prophet who served as a spokesperson for God the Father. God the Father appears in the personal pronouns in the pronouncement. He is the “I” and the “my.” He calls us to hope in His word, which includes the promise to send a Servant empowered by the Spirit to give us salvation.
The servant is God the Son, Jesus Christ, the perfect object who offers perfect obedience. His living work comprises preaching the good news of the kingdom of God. His demeanor is humble, thoughtful, spiritual, sacrificial. His offer is not to Israel alone, but to all the nations of the world. His victory comes at the cost of His own life, which He willingly gives to cancel judgment and bring victory over sin and death.
All of this is wrought through the power of God the Spirit, sent from God the Father, proceeding from God the Son, given to everyone who truly hopes, believes, and follows Him. Those captured by the Spirit of God become servants of God as well, humbly living and telling others of the hope they have found by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.
Hope in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Hope in God!
Hope in a Crisis
The God in whom we must hope always comes to us in a crisis. The crisis is always caused by the freedom of human ingenuity and the frailness of human iniquitousness. Yet, it is always governed by the God who gives us hope. Remember the scriptural truth of Romans 8:28. Remember the theological truth that our sovereign God uses even the free and sinful choices of human beings, which bring about crisis after crisis, to ultimately affect His perfect and redemptive will.
Crises make God either much easier or much harder to see. They magnify Him or make Him disappear. The arbiter between the two is hope. You either confidently expect He is present, loving and protecting and forgiving and saving; or, He is not there at all because He is not real at all. It is the crises in life that divide the people of the world into the hopeful and the hopeless, the believing and the unbelieving, the saved and the lost.
People find God in the crisis of war, or they make up their minds that wars exist because God does not. People find God in the crisis of sickness and death, or they harden their hearts against a God who could be so cruel. People find God in the times of family crisis, or financial crisis, or any myriad of other crises, or they determine that a good God would never let such bad things happen.
Remember, the God of the Bible does not cause the crisis. We do. Sin does. And sin is the greatest crisis of all. Sin separates us from God (ref. Isaiah 59:2). For this reason, “He made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (ref. 2 Corinthians 5:21).
Let us hope in God in the midst of the crises caused by our own sin. Hope in the God who comes to us to forgive sin. Hope in the gospel of Jesus Christ, which brings victory over sin, judgment, and death.
Hope in the Gospel
How do we take the powerful words packed together in this text and affirm our hope in God to forgive sin and grant eternal life through the gospel of Jesus Christ?
Hope that the gospel of Jesus Christ is historically true. He really came to us, in fulfillment of Isaiah’s and other prophecies. He really did what Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John said He did. He did it for all of the reasons that the Apostle Paul explained He did. He really did it all to usher in a perfect new heaven and earth to enjoy with His people forever, like John the Revelator said He did. Hope in the gospel as it is given to us in the inspired, infallible, inerrant word of God.
Hope that the gospel of Jesus Christ is theologically true. God is the author of history, and stepped into it in order to redeem us. Though He made us in His perfect image, we sinned against Him, marred that image, and separated ourselves from Him. The only way for God to be reunited with man was for God to become a man, the Lord Jesus Christ, to give us the hope of salvation. Christ lived a perfect life and died a sacrificial death so that all who hope in Him receive His perfect righteousness while He pays our sin debt and cancels it out forever.
Hope that the gospel of Jesus Christ is personally true. These biblical and theological truths about the gospel are of no use to you unless you personally experience and accept them. The gospel must be personal in order for you to have gospel hope, the confident expectation that you are God’s chosen one, that He has washed away all your sins, and He will live in you and with you forever and ever. This is the hope of faith. This is the hope of repentance. This is the hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I hope. I am exceedingly confident in the veracity of the Scriptures, in God’s word to man concerning the person and work of His Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. I am exceedingly confident in the biblical and historic theology of God, man, sin, and salvation. I am exceedingly confident that in January of 1982, this God and this gospel came to me in the crisis of my own sin, bringing conviction, repentance, and faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the hope of my salvation. Do you have this gospel hope?
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Dr. Charles F. "Chuck" DeVane, Jr., is the Pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church in Hot Springs, Arkansas. His weekly sermon article, "The Gospel Truth," has been published in newspapers in Arkansas and Georgia. Dr. DeVane is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and has served in the pastorate for over 20 years. Contact Pastor Chuck at PastorChuck@lakehamiltonbaptistchurch.org