Does Jesus Meet Your Expectations?
In counseling young couples who are about to get married, most marriage counselors will ask the man and woman to make a List of Expectations. Deborah and I performed this exercise before we jumped the broom. I retained her list of expectations and, from time to time, I take it out for a review.
She only put seven things on her list. I’m pretty sure that given the opportunity to remake the list today, it would be much longer. One of her expectations stuck with me. If I am going to be one minute late in coming home at the end of the day, she expects me to call her with a reason for the tardiness. First, she doesn’t want to worry that I've been in an accident and, second, she wants to know that I’m not someplace I shouldn’t be.
That’s a simple expectation that I’ve made every attempt to fulfill because I know how important it is to her.
This Sunday’s lesson won’t be about marital expectations, but it will be about church expectations—Christian expectations—and how we should handle it when our expectations are not met.
Jesus hits the ground running in his ministry. His first order of business seems to be recruiting some helpers—really they’re guys He can train because His ministry will be a short one. He wants to prepare some people to carry on His ministry once He’s gone.
It’s interesting that all Jesus has to do is say, “Follow me,” and they do. They drop everything. They quit their jobs. They walk away from their families. Why are they willing to make such a sacrifice?
Is it because they know they will be responsible for birthing the church at the Feast of Weeks three years down the road? No.
Is it because they’re eager to give their lives for the cause of Christ? No.
No, they walk away from everything because Jesus is talking about a New World Order--a Kingdom that is very near. Kingdom talk is quite alluring because it implies dominion and power. People love power … and these guys want to get in on the ground floor. “Jesus is going places! Maybe He’ll take us with Him when He comes into His Kingdom.” Their expectations are high!
Then Jesus begins healing people and casting out demons. Why He even heals a man with the dreaded disease of leprosy! At Peter’s house, Jesus removes a fever from Peter’s mother-in-law so she can fix supper. After supper, the line of people demanding to be healed looks like the drive-through at Chic-Fil-A! And Jesus finds time for all of them. No one is turned away.
It doesn’t take long for word to filter out. Soon people come to Him from “every quarter” of the region of Galilee. Many of these people also decide to follow Jesus. This guy may do even greater things than these! Their expectations of Jesus are high indeed.
But, if you notice, their expectations are all centered on ME. What is Jesus going to do for ME? Will I get a powerful position in His Kingdom? Will Jesus heal me? Will He make my life better?
Me, me, me. I, I, I. Apparently, they didn’t get the short memo at the beginning of Mark 1:14. It's only five words: “Now after John was arrested….” Wait, what?! John was arrested? Why? I mean, he’s a prophet of God! He's preparing the way for Jesus! He's been arrested?
Yep. John, the prophet of God, the one crying in the wilderness, is in prison. Soon he will be executed.
By the way, the exact same thing will happen to Jesus.
Well, that’s not on anybody's list of expectations. No, everyone expects Jesus to muster the armies of God. They expect Him to march into Rome and clean house. They expect Him to return Israel to its proper place on the world stage. He's the Messiah—God’s anointed king. He has come to establish the Kingdom of Almighty God and Jerusalem will be the global capital.
Meanwhile, John sits on death row. And Jesus is headed to the cross.
What are your expectations of Jesus?
Do you expect Him to cure your addiction? Your cancer? Your financial woes?
Do you expect Jesus to undo a fraudulent election and put Trump back on the throne of American power? (I can’t tell you the number of people—Christians?—on Twitter who expect Him to do that very thing--and they cite book, chapter, and verse).
Or, if you’re on the other side of the aisle, maybe you expect Jesus to join hands with Joe Biden to bring about a world-wide wave of social justice. “Finally, I’m gonna get what I deserve!”
Do you expect Jesus to take your mess of a life, your “hell on earth” and make it your “heaven on earth”? After all, Jesus just wants us to be happy and prosperous, right? That’s what the TV preacher says.
Let me remind you one more time: John is in jail. And Jesus will be crucified.
So, let’s just take a step back and ask ourselves, what do I expect from Jesus?
Of course, the better question is this: What does Jesus expect from me?
“Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life” (The words of Jesus in Revelation 2:10).