Sermon: Against all Hope


Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed God's promises and became the father of many nations. Christianity is about long-term thinking, not short-term pleasure. It is about sacrifice for the greater hope and not giving in to fleshly desires and destroying our hope. 


To explore how hope comes in choosing the difficult and not the easy path. 

Sermon Plan 

We will look at the purpose of the most important anointing in human history, the anointing of Jesus, the anointed one, the purpose of taking up our cross and following the example of his anointing. We will see how temporary suffering produces far greater long-term rewards than giving in to the easy way. We will see that against all hope, we willingly suffer what we must now for the greater hope tomorrow. 

Anointed for What 

In Mark 8:27-38 Jesus asked his students, “Who do you[-all] say I am?” Peter correctly answered: Christ or Messiah (the anointed one) but what does that mean? For Jesus, it meant suffering and death on the cross. Peter did not want to hear it and rebuked Jesus for predicting it. But that is what being the anointed one meant. It also means that anyone who follows Christ must likewise be willing to give of themselves in order to serve human kind. There is a form of Christianity which claims to be spirit-filled, but is in reality self-centered and materialistic. It focuses on personal spiritual experiences instead of serving others and accumulating wealth for self instead of giving it away for others. Against all hope Christ focused upon totally giving up the self in order that others may live. 

Unpopular Jesus 

A popular message is that Jesus can help you get your life back, but that’s not exactly how Jesus said it. In Mark 8:27-38 Jesus said, “whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it.” We don’t want to lose our lives. Our natural desire is to preserve our way of life. Yet such a selfish life is a dead life. The only work worth doing is that of giving to others. When we we give, we gain the whole world. It is a message that is so contrary to our natural thinking that we believe it is a lie. Certainly, giving up our lives is not a popular message, but according to Jesus, it is the way to save our lives. 

Difficult Scriptures 

Some Bible passages which are hard to understand are called difficult scriptures. In Mark 8:27-38 Jesus said, “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” What cross? For a thousand years overlapping the life of Christ, crucifixion was a method of capital punishment among several ancient peoples including the Romans. Convicted criminals were sometimes required to carry either the cross beam or the entire cross to the place of execution. For Christians to take up their crosses it means that we must deny our selfish, natural desires and devote ourselves to the service of Jesus and others. This is one of the most uncomfortable sayings of Jesus. It is not hard to understand. It is difficult to do. Often it is the easiest to understand which are the hardest passages. 

Against all Hope 

Christians are not called to do the easy thing. We are called to do the difficult thing that seems to be against all hope (Mark 8:27-38). Following Jesus is to lay aside the easy way and choose what appears to be the more difficult path. Just as Jesus gave up his life on the cross, so too do we carry our cross and take the difficult path to self-sacrifice. Few of us are called to do like Abraham and make a supreme personal sacrifice by leaving our country to follow God, yet we are called to selflessness. Against all hope, Abraham hoped in God’s promises (Romans 4:13-25) and became the father of many nations (Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16). Like his promise to Abraham, God’s promise to us is a better life beyond the temporary sacrifices of the present.


I once knew a young mechanic who took every factory training course offered by his company. The other mechanics could not be bothered. They wanted the easy path. In his mid 20's he became the boss over his much older co-workers, because he took the hard road. In all of life's endeavors, there are those who choose short-term pain for long-term gain. Athletes cannot go home and relax between games, they must train. At college there are the party people who lose and the hard workers who succeed. Anything worthwhile involves short-term pain for long-term gain. There are two paths to take in life. The easy path starts out smooth, but ends up rough. The hard road often starts out difficult, but end up smoother.


Christianity is about long-term thinking, not short-term pleasure. It is about sacrifice for the greater hope and not giving in to fleshly desires and destroying our hope. Before us stands the choice. We can choose short-term pleasure and long-term pain, or we can choose self-denial now and the real hope of long-term blessings beyond measure. Against all hope let us believe in the blessings that come from God through long-term thinking.