Prisoners of Hope

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Palm Sunday is the beginning of Holy Week, a journey towards the Cross when Jesus died and all our lives were changed.

David highlighted a three word phrase from the Bible reading Zechariah 9:9-13, “prisoners of hope”. How do you react to this phrase? Do you feel trapped at the moment? Trapped in your home, by your circumstances? Being a ‘prisoner’ normally has negative connotations but to be a ‘prisoner of hope’ is an amazing thing. It’s a hope that exists despite your circumstances.

“Hope does not deny our circumstances of the present, and hope doesn’t get us out of our difficulties. Hope doesn’t get us out, but it does get us through” – Peter Gomes

"Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you."

Zechariah 9:12

Throughout the Bible, God is often referred to as our fortress and our strength: He is a lifeline for many at the moment. How does this connect Jesus to Palm Sunday? It is Jesus, the promised King, who allows us to return to God through the events of Holy Week. Apart from Jesus, the Bible tells us that we are all “prisoners of sin”

"But the Scriptures declare that we are all prisoners of sin, so we receive God’s promise of freedom only by believing in Jesus Christ."

Galatians 3:22

Through Jesus we can find freedom to become prisoners of hope. Jesus’ journey took him to a place of total isolation, which made it possible for us to return to God.

People were expecting the Messiah, a new king, and in Jerusalem they made this connection from the Old Testament when they greeted Jesus as he entered the city on Palm Sunday. The crowds shouted “Hosanna, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord”. By the end of the week, the shouts had changed to “crucify him”. His friends and followers distanced themselves from Him. Even God appeared to have abandoned Jesus who cried out, “My God my God why have you forsaken me?”

Jesus experienced true social isolation. He died alone so that we wouldn’t have to: He died deserted so we could be reunited with God.

"God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."

2 Corinthians 5:21

Zechariah’s prophesy points forward to the coming of Jesus and the offer of hope on Good Friday.

"As for you, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will free your prisoners from the waterless pit. Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you."

Zechariah 9:11-12

This is a reference to the new covenant Jesus made with us. As Christians we are prisoners of hope in Jesus Christ because of the events of that first Easter week.

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness” – Desmond Tutu

True hope is only possible because Jesus died in isolation so that we wouldn’t have to. May it become an important aspect of your journey, being a prisoner of hope.

Here are some questions to discuss this week:

  • How did you first react to the phrase “prisoners of hope”?
  • Why is being a captive to hope so necessary these days?
  • How can we share our position with others?
  • What strikes your afresh about the journey of Jesus to isolation?
  • How might this three word phrase affect your journey towards Easter this year?
A plant with hanging easter eggs and a hand painted picture underneath reading 'prisoners of hope'
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