Christ’s sacrifice allows us to hope as we live between “the already but not yet.”
After the crucifixion, a wealthy Jewish leader named Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate if he could have Jesus’ body to bury it. Surely Joseph grasped the huge risk in requesting Rome’s permission to provide proper burial for a criminal convicted of treason. Undoubtedly he realized that his reputation and status in the religious community would be endangered.
What gave Joseph, a secret follower of Jesus, the courage to come forward while the Lord’s closest friends stepped back in fear? Was it because Joseph had been living expectantly, on the lookout for God? (See Mark 15:43 MSG.)
Christ’s sacrifice changes everything—both our forever destiny and our daily life—allowing us to live with a sense of boundless hope and resolute anticipation. Yet sometimes I wonder, How often do I ignore, overlook, fail or refuse to recognize God’s presence? Am I truly on the lookout for Him? How expectantly am I living, between “the already but not yet”?
These are important questions, today and every day of my life. Because where Jesus appears and how Jesus thinks and what Jesus says oftentimes aren’t what I expect. And I’m not alone. Consider Joseph of Arimathea, Peter and John, and the women who discovered the empty tomb. Despite Jesus’ guarantee, they did not anticipate His death. And after He was buried, what did they expect? Their shock and disbelief when He reappeared provide the answer.
Years ago I received a letter from a friend struggling between the already but not yet. “All I can do,” he wrote, “is live each moment as it comes and be aware of God in it.” His conclusion: “I want to let struggle, grief, and hurt exist side by side with joy, peace, and hope.”
It may not be easy to live expectantly between present and future realities, but I believe it’s the best approach. A mom grieving the death of her son explained, “I’m discovering how grief and hope dance together, often exchanging the lead. Yet without Christ’s sacrifice, there would be no hope—and what a cruel dance that would be.”
Now, that’s living expectantly!
By Fil Anderson