But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. – Luke 24:21
We all have expectations. There are certain things that I can expect to happen in my life. The sun will come up in the morning and go down at night. I will have air to breathe. Jesus will never leave me or forsake me. Jesus will one day return, and a myriad of other minor expectations that we expect without much thought. Beyond this, this world is full of possibilities only. I may expect my car to start, but there is no guarantee. Anyone who has experienced the pain of divorce knows that what we expect may not always happen. People we expect to love us forever and exclusively may one day fall away and hurt us in ways we never imagined. People may exceed our expectations, which is the hope, but there is always a chance that they will fail our expectations. Sounds very cynical doesn’t it?
Many times the problem is not the people but our expectations of those people. The disciples thought that Jesus was going to usher in his earthly kingdom and throw the Romans out of Israel. They were expecting the restoration of David’s Kingdom. Their expectations were wrong. Jesus came to redeem Israel and all the world from their sin, not to build an earthly kingdom. Jesus came to suffer and die for the sins of the world. The disciples were so excited about the possibility of their involvement in the coming kingdom that even when Jesus flat out told them that he was going to suffer and die, they did not realize he really meant it. Luke 9 also tells us that “it was concealed from them” so we can somewhat understand why they didn’t understand.
Sometimes I think that I have misguided expectations of Jesus. If I do things just right then God will bless me. Just the right amount of prayer, just the right amount of giving, just the right amount of meditation on God’s Word, while all of these things are awesome and do help me draw closer to God, my misdirected expectations negate the positive benefit. You see, if I do something because I expect God to do something in return I am putting conditions on my relationship with Jesus. God does not want conditions, He wants surrender… complete and full surrender. Only God has the right to place expectations on our relationship. He expects my complete devotion and surrender of every part of my life to Him. The beauty of His expectations is that God does not expect me to be able to completely surrender to Him on my own ability. God knows that in my fallen human nature I am unable to surrender on my own. It is only with the help of the Holy Spirit that I can humbly submit to God.
Obedience is never easy, but there is great joy and amazing peace in being obedient to Jesus. Jesus tells us in John 16:33, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” Obedience to Christ brings peace, even through the troubles that we will face in this world, and we will have tribulation. That is something we can definitely expect.
Father, I pray that you will help me to surrender my life to you on a moment-by-moment basis. Help me to not put expectations on my relationship with you, but to love you with abandon. Lord, I want the joy that comes from obedience to you. I know that I will have trouble in this world, but you have overcome the world. Help me to find peace in you and in no where else. May the peace I find in you be apparent to those around me so that they too will desire the perfect peace that comes only from You. – Amen