As Jesus walked the countryside, He revealed something of the identity of the people. We live in a similar reality, as we interact with Jesus, He reveals areas that we have placed parts of our identity.
God will not be settled until His clay is perfectly conformed to its intended shape.
For the Israelites, their hope was in the politics of a nation. Political liberation with Jesus as king. That was their clear expectation – Jesus knew it and fled the temptation. That hope became the basis for their identity.
And the problem was that they had taken God out of their identity.
Yes, it is true they wanted God to provide the messiah, but they wanted God to sustain their self-made identity. That of a political nation free of Roman intervention.
God did create them to be a nation, but it was to be a nation that called themselves His people. He was to be their identity, the basis of their hope.
Instead they wanted the nation, but forgot the God who made the nation. Redemption was political; freedom from Rome.
In a lot of ways, Israel is the story of us. Hope becomes the basis of identity; identity is source of redemption.
The Pharisees put their hope in the law, and wandered from the God who gave the law.
We put hope in our marriage or other relationship, and forget the God who makes love possible.
We want to put our hope in beauty, but forget the God who made us.
Hope is placed in our bank account, and avoid the God who gives every good and perfect gift.
These are among our attempts to create our own redemption. Examples are endless.
This is part of my battle. My struggle has been my desire to be noticed and valued. Something God is having me confront daily by calling me to write a book, an arena that necessitates developing attention. If I take God and calling out of the equation, then my hope to be noticed can lead to me placing identity in numbers, identity in success or results, or even identity in the opinions of people.
So, bottom line, where is your hope?