Peter’s head was spinning. Just a few days ago, everything seemed to be perfect. The crowds finally seemed to realize who Jesus was – that he truly was their Messiah. They had greeted him with cries of “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” They had waved palm branches and celebrated his entry on a donkey into Jerusalem.
Yes, the rest of the week had been bumpy, but that was to be expected. The Jewish aristocracy who led Israel both politically and religiously had gone on a full-scale attack against Jesus. It was a wonder they had not arrested him in the middle of his teaching and hauled him out of the Temple.
Clearly, Jesus knew the danger. He had arranged for a secret location for them to have their Passover meal. And then the wheels came off. Out of nowhere, Jesus said one of his disciples would betray him. Unthinkable. Worse yet, Jesus then said that Peter would deny him, and not just once, but three times. How absurd! It would be better to die than to do that.
The disciples were stunned. The wind had completely gone out of their sails. And then Jesus said this:
Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.
–John 14:1-4 ESV
In that moment of uncertainty and even panic, Jesus gave them hope. Hope that could only be ignited by trust. They believed in – trusted in – God. Despite the dire news Jesus just shared, he was telling them – even Peter, who would supposedly betray Jesus – to trust in Jesus too. Not only that, Jesus gave a promise: He was preparing a place for them. That meant that, whatever happened next, Jesus would not abandon them. He wasn’t going to reject them. Instead, he was planning for them to stay with him forever.
Peter was unable to fully grasp Jesus’ words of hope in that moment. Yet it wasn’t necessary that he understand or actually have hope in the midst of his confusion. It was only necessary that Peter continue to trust in Jesus, even when he later denied knowing Jesus three times.
While Peter did not understand that night in the Upper Room how trust ignites hope, Jesus’ words did eventually sink in. Years later, Peter would share that same exact message of hope with the persecuted church:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
–1 Peter 1:3-9 ESV, emphasis added
Hope is not about what we wish might be true. Hope is a confidence that is ignited by our trust in the person of Jesus and our confidence that he will do what he has promised. Trust ignites hope.