Broken For Good – Part 1
Nov 3, 2019 | Chris Ward
Unmet expectations are probably one of the hardest things that we have to face in this life. Perhaps that is why Bill Watterson, famous creator of the Calvin and Hobbes series once said, perhaps a little cynically, “I find my life is a lot easier the lower I keep my expectations.” It is hard to be disappointed, and when we have unmet expectations, that is much easier to happen.
The difficult thing is that we bring expectations almost everywhere we go, including to our relationship with Jesus. Perhaps many of us were “sold” on Jesus and Christianity by promises of a much better life, things that Jesus would do for us–health, wealth and/or prosperity–or a as a “solution” to all of our problems. And then we get disappointed when we find ourselves going through the same difficulties / problems that everybody else does.
If we have ever struggled with that, we are not alone. These sorts of struggles go all of the way back to the time of Jesus, and were even shared by one of the most surprising people: John the Baptist.
If you know anything about John, he was the first one, really, to recognize that Jesus was the promised Messiah sent by God. It is, after all, John who said of Jesus, “I’m not worthy to tie his sandals!” (John 1:27). John recognized earlier than anybody the uniqueness of Jesus.
But life got hard for John. Though he had been on Jesus’ team since “Day 1,” John ended up imprisoned for his actions. And to John that didn’t make sense: the Messiah was supposed to be the deliverer of God’s people. How could the Messiah’s cousin be arrested?
That’s why one day John sent some of his disciples to ask Jesus a question that has probably lingered in the back of many people who have followed Jesus: “are you really the one, or should we expect someone else?” (Luke 7:20). Wrapped up in that statement? Unmet expectations and extreme disappointment.
Jesus’ response is interesting: He IS doing what the Bible said He would do. But He’s not doing what people expected Him to. And so Jesus acknowledges that life will be hard for those who follow Him: “Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me,” He says (Luke 7:23).
In the story of John the Baptist we find a lesson that we all need to grab ahold of: God is God, we are not. And we need to let God be God, and not put expectations on Him. If we are following Jesus for what Jesus can give us, we are going to be continually disappointed in life, because Jesus is not a means to an end, Jesus is the end. And the sooner we can be broken of any expectations for what Jesus can give us, and the sooner we can understand that the greatest privilege in following Jesus IS Jesus, the better off we can be.
But here’s the deal: once we change our expectations – once we follow Jesus simply for Jesus’ sake – we find true fulfillment in this life. Paul makes it clear that every promise that God has given us finds its fulfillment in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20). Jesus is not the means to the prize, Jesus IS the prize, and that is where true satisfaction is found.
This week, how can we lay down our expectations of what we are expecting Jesus to be, and how can we refocus on Jesus Himself?