What do you hope for your kids?
Maybe your hope is that they'll be academically successful. If this is you, then school has become life! Year round school. Summer school. After school school. Weekend school. If this is you, then you even have the unique ability to make fun into school! This is why parents get upset if their three year old isn't reading sentences half way through Preschool. They have already started to look into the best university for your 4th grader. You may have gotten your kids a French tutor at the age of six! I tr
Another common hope for parents is that their kids will be financially stable. That means a lot in this unstable economy. So you work long hard hours. You forget to eat. You forget to drink. All to make sure that you can save up so your kid doesn't have any ridiculous students loans from college. You may even let them stay at home to save on rent.
Maybe, you hope is that they'll take care of finances on their own., Maybe, you hope that your kid will be athletically successful! This is where things get crazy right? Parents say, “My kid needs to have chosen the one sport that he will excel at by the end of 2nd grade. Then, I can sign him up for every sports camp that comes my way! I'll buy him all the latest Nike gear, because then he'll be able to jump higher and move quicker. I'll even get him a personal trainer so that he from a professional. I know costs a lot of money and it's 1 in every 10 million kids that actually make it to the NBA, but my kid's different. He'll be the one to make it."
Jesus' hope for your kids.
They are much different. Jesus had entirely different hopes. In his high priestly prayer, a prayer that he prayer to his Father, a prayer that he prayed out loud for all his disciples to hear, Jesus explained his hope for all people. For us. For your children. In John 17:2-3 he said, “Father the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people,” Why? “That he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.”
Think about how incredible this is! Jesus was about to die. That very night he'd be arrested. The next day he'd be on the cross. And he knew all of this would happen. Yet, the main thing he hopes for in his prayer is not that the pain would be over quickly or that it wouldn't be so intense orthat it wouldn't happen at all.
It was that all people... you...your child might have eternal life.
So...Which hope is better?
Did you know that, according to a recent Deloitte Center for Finances study, only .54 percent of the world's population will become millionaires? And that includes people who save and strive for that until the end of their life!
Did you know that this past year only 7.2% of the 30,000 that applied to Harvard were accepted into the prestigious university!?! That's only those people who applied.
Did you know that out of every 10 million high school, varsity basketball players only 40 will make it to the NBA? Again. Those are only the kids who make the varsity basketball team!
What are the chances of going to heaven? With faith in Jesus, it is 1 in 1. 100% certain. There is no doubt!
This is the first key difference between earthly hopes and heavenly hopes. Hope of eternity in Jesus is certain! Victory is certain. Success over sin is certain. Even a home of heavenly riches is completely and absolutely certain!
And considering who the promises is from, this makes sense! After all, in his prayer Jesus calls God, “the only true God.” That means, this isn't a promise made by Zeus, the made up God of Greek myth. It isn't a promise made by scientists, in an attempt to explain future origins of the universe.
It's a promise made by God. The God as real as the blood stained cross he hung on. The God as real as the graveyard tomb he left behind.
Jesus' hope for our kids is way more certain than our own earthly hopes for our kids.
And think about something else:
JaMarcus Russel and Ryan Leaf were both drafted number one over all in their respective NFL drafts. They both made over $40,000,000.
Neither of them still play. One of them went to jail. The other is bankrupt.
But then again, it doesn't matter if it is money, athleticism, or even smarts. None of these things last forever!
Money can be spent. Athleticism goes away with age. Memory and the mind can be attacked by Alzheimer's and other diseases.
But the hope of eternal life?
That lasts forever.
Think of what it's called after all: eternal life. That means life without end. Life that is outside of time. Life that lasts forever.
And it comes from an eternal God! Another reason why this truth can be trusted. It's not like some out of work gentleman promising to pay you back $1000 that he doesn't have.
This is God. Promising to pay you eternity. Which he invented and controls!
Jesus' hope for our kids is longer lasting than our hopes for our kids.
So...Why do we Focus our Kids on temporary, uncertain Hopes?
Think back to our opening examples: “Yes, I spend all my money and time to make sure my child is academically successful. That way I can get one of those “my child is an honor student” bumper stickers and put it on the back of my vehicle! People will be impressed!"
“Yes, I am doing everything possible to make sure that My kid doesn't have the big money problems that I had growing up. In fact, my hope is that one day he'll make it big and then he can lend old dad some money to take care of himself.”
“Yes, I my life revolves around my child's fledgling sporting career, but I look at it as an investment! One day he'll be famous and I'll be on an ESPN special...interviewed on my commitment to athletics!”
Do you see why our hopes for our children are the way they are? Because our hopes are focused on temporal, uncertain things as well.
It's like a pair of binoculars. If you find a rare bird off in a tree, you keep your eyes on him as you bring your child over. You have to be focused in order to focus them in the right direction. If not, who knows where you are pointing him.
If our focus is on temporary, uncertain earthly hopes for our children, it's because that's where our hopes are focused as well.
And the sad thing is that if we focus our thoughts and hopes on earthly things then we will completely miss out on the only hope that lasts and is completely certain. Instead, we'll be completely uncertain of our eternal future.
But God is certain. He is certain that apart from him there is only eternal pain and misery in hell.
But if your hope is the same as that of Jesus, change your focus.
Jesus explains how eternal life comes about verse 3: “This is how people have eternal life...they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”
It's what Jesus said in our Gospel for today from John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me.”
Do you see the urgency?
This is why teaching your kids about Jesus is of the utmost importance. Because by teaching them about their Savior, you will be giving them hope. Real hope. Certain hope.
The only Hope that lasts forever.
Take advantage of opportunities for your child to grow in their knowledge about Jesus. Let them experience Jesus as they learn about him in Sunday School. I know that's early. But get up. Bring them to Sunday School. And church! Teach them about the cross up front. Explain what the songs we sing mean. Tell them that Jesus loves them in your family devotions. At your bedtime prayers.
You will be giving them real hope. Hope that lasts forever.
There is no better gift!
When I was in my final year at the Seminary, I made hospital visits to a lady in a mental care facility. One day, as I rode up the secure elevator to the Alzheimer's wing, I heard shouting and screaming. I looked around and warily approached the front desk. I told them whom I was there to see.
“HA!” she replied. “Good luck. She's the one that's screaming. She's locked herself in that room and won't come out.”
I said a prayer.
Then approached anyways. I introduced myself as the intern pastor. I asked if I could read from the Gospel of John. She nodded. I began to read about the Good Shepherd. She quieted down. She listened. I said, “Remember: Jesus is the Good shepherd and you are his sheep. He loves you.”
“He loves me,” she repeated.
We sang “Jesus Loves Me” together.
Brothers and sisters, Jesus offers real hope! Hope that is certain. Hope that lasts. From a child when you first learn about his love all the way to death when you need his love more than ever!
May this certain hope of our certain Savior be with you always. Amen.