Unmet Expectations?

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Have you ever had expectations of God that you don’t believe He met? Or perhaps He met them differently than you had hoped?

The followers of Jesus who worshipped Him as He rode through town on a colt the week before His death and resurrection would deny and betray Him just days later. Why? They didn’t believe He had met their expectations.

On Palm Sunday, they laid down their cloaks, waved palms, and shouted, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”

They recognized He was there to save. But they believed He would reign as a politically powerful, earthly king. They believed He would restore Israel to her glory, with wealth, political might, and security. This was their expectation.

A week later, Judas betrayed Him, Peter denied Him, and hope seemed to be lost. After His resurrection, when Jesus came upon Cleopas and his friends on the road to Emmaus, He found them downcast, talking about their dashed hopes regarding the One who had been sentenced to death and crucified. They said they had hoped this man – not realizing they were in the presence of Jesus Himself – would redeem Israel. Had they been fools for believing in this Messiah who had so clearly not met their expectations?

Their chatter would change, of course, moments later when they realized Jesus Himself was sitting in front of them. They realized that He had exceeded their wildest expectations. When they saw Him face to face, their expectations were filled to overflowing.

John Calvin wrote this many years ago: For, this is eternal life; to know one, only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he has sent, whom he has established as the beginning, the middle, and the end of our salvation. Jesus Christ is Isaac, the beloved Son of the Father who was offered as a sacrifice, but nevertheless did not succumb to the power of death. He is Jacob the watchful shepherd, who has such great care for the sheep which he guards. He is the good and compassionate brother Joseph, who in his glory was not ashamed to acknowledge his brothers, however lowly and abject their condition. He is the great sacrificer and bishop Melchizedek, who has offered an eternal sacrifice once for all. He is the sovereign lawgiver Moses, writing his law on the tables of our hearts by his Spirit. He is the faithful captain and guide Joshua, to lead us to the Promised Land. He is the victorious and noble king David, bringing by his hand all rebellious power to subjection. He is the magnificent and triumphant king Solomon, governing his kingdom in peace and prosperity. He is the strong and powerful Samson, who by his death has overwhelmed all his enemies.

It follows that every good thing we could think or desire is to be found in this same Jesus Christ alone. For He was sold, to buy us back; captive, to deliver us; condemned, to absolve us; He was made a curse for our blessing, sin offering for our righteousness; marred that we may be made fair; He died for our life; so that by him fury is made gentle, wrath appeased, darkness turned into light, fear reassured, despisal despised, debt canceled, labor lightened, sadness made merry…

Whatever unmet expectations we might have – and if we’re honest, surely we all have some – the Gospel and the resurrection promises us that Jesus does not merely meet our expectations. He fills them to overflowing.

Whatever your sorrow, your suffering, your unmet expectations – a broken marriage, a struggling child, illness, loss, loneliness, betrayal, a thorn in the flesh that will not go away despite prayer after prayer – the same God who raised Jesus from the dead hears your cries. And He is faithful to the end. This resurrection power - this life - is at work in us!

As we enter into Holy Week, may we be people who confess our unmet expectations to our God, so that He can fill them to overflowing. May we be people who refuse to deny Jesus, even in the midst of confusion and despair. May we be people who long to know Jesus, in whom "every good thing we could think or desire is found." May we be people who can truly say from experience, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”

See you Sunday,

References: Mark 11:1-11; 2 Corinthians 4:8-18; James 1:17; Luke 24:13-35