After His brothers had gone up to the festival, then He also went up, not openly but secretly.
Do you ever expect something and it doesn’t happen? Worse yet, do you get upset when it doesn’t happen the way you pictured it?
- Like letting someone merge into your traffic line—when a nice wave in appreciation would be nice.
- Like scrubbing the kitchen until you actually see shine—when a bowl correctly placed in the dishwasher would be appreciated.
- Like completing a project at work even earlier than promised—and no one else notices.
- Like losing five hard-fought pounds—but the only thing anyone notices is your new shoes.
Sometimes our expectations can hinder our view of reality in which we live. For instance, why is it that I’m continually shocked, outraged, and even angered over issues that are sometimes subtle and other times prevalent in our society?
Just the other day, while I was searching on an e-book account, I came across a list of books that the computer thought I may prefer since I’d recently purchased a C.S. Lewis book. Needless to say, the list did not meet my expectations for what was to follow: a list of atheist books.
It did pique my interest, so I read some of the excerpts from the texts. I could feel myself get more anxious and angered with each explanation of Christianity: “mystic nonsense,” “folk tales,” “domesticated dogma.” I couldn’t get past the argument that one had to choose either God or reason. God was viewed as a “failed hypothesis” while others were viewed as “free thinkers.”
These are the present-day expectations of the present-day Christian. What were the expectations that the disciples had for Jesus? For the public that interacted with Him?
In John 7:10, Jesus set out on His own—privately. This time of the Feast would’ve been a perfect opportunity for Jesus to be heard, to get His message to the masses. However, Jesus was diligent to follow God’s mission—not others’ expectations.
Likewise in Luke 9:51-56, Jesus didn’t live up to the expectations of His disciples. The disciples were obedient to go ahead and prepare for Jesus’ visit through Samaria. However, when Jesus arrived, no one was there to receive Him or show Him hospitality.
This wasn’t unorthodox for this time. It was expected for Samaritans to ignore any Jews travelling through their villages in route to their holy festivals in Jerusalem. So why was it that these two disciples, James and John, were so angered by this?
We do that today.
We know we have something different, something not of this world. We know we’re a light in the darkness, salt to the earth. We know we’re created to be chosen, unique for His use.
So why are we caught off guard when the world and its views come into contradiction with our expectations—when we’re not welcomed with open arms (Luke 9)? And why do we get equally agitated when God doesn’t respond in a way we think would work perfectly for His mission (John 7:10)?
There’s nothing wrong with expectations—as long as we allow God to structure them to His plan. Forcing our expectations on others can only lead to frustration and resentment. Forcing our expectations on God leads to disobedience and self-centeredness.
God is our focus. God alone should be our expectation. We are set apart for His purpose, His expectations. Prayer is a place where we can align our expectations with God’s. God invites us to come to His throne of Grace.
Steven Curtis Chapman has a song called “Great Expectations.” I encourage you to look up the lyrics and listen to the music as you settle your heart into where God has you for the day. Fight the urge to frustrate yourself with the world and come to God with these great expectations.
- Read the following verses and see examples of being “set apart:” 2 Timothy 2: 20-22; 1 Peter 1:1-3; Galatians 1:14-16.
- What cultural significance did the Samaritan villages have with the Jews?
- How can prayers help us realign our expectations with God’s?