We all have expectations. Some set high expectations while others would resonate with Alexander Pope who said, “Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed”. I think you would agree that no matter what our expectations were for this last year, none of us us would have expected what has turned out to be an extremely unusual 2020.
Interestingly enough, Jesus says very little about our expectations. Granted, at one point, Jesus says not to expect anything in return for loving others well (Luke 6:34-35). Another time, Jesus says to expect the unexpected when it comes to the end of the world (Luke 12:40-46). Other than that, as far as scripture would tell us, Jesus speaks very little about human expectations with the exception of the expectation of the coming of Messiah and what the Messiah was going to do.
When Jesus exploded onto the scene, people's expectations of where God was and what God was going to do next were quite high and looking back 2,000 years later, misplaced. No judgement - If I were living in those days, I would probably have had misplaced expectations of the Messiah, too.
John the Baptist was in prison and sent his friends to ask Jesus their shared burning question, "Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else? (Matthew 11:3). And, perhaps like us today, their expectations of life returning to whatever "normal" were not met. They were looking for hope toward a better future than their present circumstance. They were waiting for good news in a world of high anxiety and division. They were craving rescue from the uncertainty from a growing brutal Roman regime. They just wanted life to be "normal" again.
And, Jesus changed their expectations. Jesus - like He always does, looked at the people with love and changed them from the inside out. Jesus responded to their expectations: Look around. What do you see? Blind people, see. Lame people, walk. Sick people are made healthy. Deaf people, hear. Dead people, live. And, poor people have the same good news and access to the everything as rich people do. What more do you expect?
Jesus changes our expectations, as well. While we long for a sense of "normal", I sometimes find myself expecting Jesus to fix life right now. You might be able to relate. Many of us are searching for a better future than our present coronavirus-reality. Some of us are waiting for a time when we can have a respite from working twice as hard for half the reward - both tangibly and intrinsically - or waiting to go back to work, period. Others of us are either rejoicing or grieving over this past week's election results (or uncertain results!). And if we're honest with ourselves - a little (or large) piece of us just wants life to be "normal" again.
And in all of our expectations - whatever they might be, Jesus sees you. Jesus looks at you. He looks at me. And with all of his love, He responds: Life might not be what you expected - but look around. What do you see? Adults, students, kids, and babies are being baptized. Young people are choosing to take their next steps in their faith. New people are joining Jesus' mission. People are praying with and for each other. Neighbors are being served. The least of these are being provided for. Children and grandchildren are re-engaging their relationship with Jesus. Dreams of families having more time to be together are coming alive. People are seemingly engaging in formal and informal faith conversations in their homes and among their friends. The gospel is being made more accessible, far beyond the four walls of a church.
What more do you expect?
And while we long for "normal", perhaps Jesus' wants to change our expectation for this moment (or year). . . for us to look around and see that He is very much here and very much present and most certainly working in this moment.
I wonder if over these past eight months God has been asking us to consider our expectations of Him. I know that when I expect God's very best: that the gospel is enough; relationships matter; and Jesus' power is at work and His presence is around me in each moment of everyday, my expectation of "normal" becomes very different.
And in Jesus, what else could I have expected?
This Week at Our Savior
This Sunday, Pastor Matt continues our series, i See; You See by helping us see the future that Jesus sees. I can’t wait to see you online, this Sunday.
Love you more than you know.
PS: I can’t wait to see you on Thursday at 6:30pm for our online Novemberfest experience. No registration required. :)
Meet Pastor Tim
Tim Bayer has served as Our Savior's Lead Pastor since September 2019. He also serves as an Adjunct Instructor at Concordia University - Irvine, a National Leadership Facilitator and Resource, and a Community Mental Health First Aid Instructor. Tim studied sociology, psychology, and theology prior to earning his M.Div at Concordia Seminary - St. Louis. He has also is a candidate for an Ed.D (ABD) in Transformational Leadership. He is married to Beth and they have three young children. Together, they enjoy exploring the outdoors, experiencing culture, and pizza and movie nights.