By Kendy Pearson
I once wrote a children’s story about a polliwog who made grand plans, expecting to live out his entire life as a polliwog. He had unrealistic expectations.
Even though frogs surrounded him, he didn’t understand how his life would change—that he too, would one day become a frog.
People are predictable
We like to think we completely understand a situation, therefore the situation must meet our expectations. Daily, our expectations are reinforced. We wake in the morning, we expect the light of day. We turn on the faucet, we expect water to run.
Anticipation of a messiah fueled the hope of the Jewish people for many long years. In fact, just during Jesus’ time on earth, numerous false messiahs rose up among God’s people. The Jews looked for a particular type of “rescuer.” A HERO. An ENIGMA. One who would deliver them in a dramatic way from the heavy thumb of the Roman Empire. They expected royalty, opulence, pomp, and influence. At the very least, they anticipated a well-bred, public speaker inclined to woo thousands with speeches and incite the masses to action against their oppressors. Jesus did not meet their expectations.
The Jewish people didn’t see it coming—
they were thrown for a loop. Elijah brought water to a heathen widow instead of Jewish widows during a severe draught. Elisha didn’t heal the Jewish lepers, he cleansed a Syrian leper instead. Why didn’t the people recognize the fact that almighty God is not obliged to operate within their meager box of expectations?
In the synagogue, the teleprompter rolled. Jesus read the words of the prophet Isaiah from the Torah scroll. (Luke 4:16-30) He delivered the inaugural address that would begin His tenure on earth. Amazed at first, the people listened as Jesus recited the Scripture with authority and finesse. I suspect Jesus didn’t even look at the scroll. They waited expectantly for Him to tickle their ears. After all, stories had spread about this man.
“Let us see for ourselves why this man stirs the hearts of the people!” they thought.
When Jesus began to remind them of God’s tendency to work outside the box, they reacted with anger. They balked at even the possibility this common carpenter from Nazareth might be their deliverer. Jesus didn’t fit the mold. Not only was there no pomp or position standing before them—this man dared to remind them that God sometimes doesn’t give His people what they want and expect. He does things His way instead.
The crowd’s reaction to Jesus that day at the Synagogue would mirror the world’s reaction for the next two millennia. As I speak with those who don’t know my Savior, I notice a theme. Their questions, couched within their individual worlds of expectation, are predictable. They still think the Savior of all mankind should operate within the confines of humanity’s idealism.
I’m challenged in my own prayer life to trust that God will answer prayer in ways I can’t even imagine. I’m reminded by the prophet Isaiah: God’s ways and thoughts are not mine. I’m so thankful His ways are higher than mine.
If Jesus only met man’s expectations, we’d be in a world of hurt.
THIS ARTICLE APPEARS IN THE WINTER 2015 EDITION OF VISTA MAGAZINE (Weslyan Publishing House)
It is based on Luke 4:16-24, 28-30, and 5:1-11