I would like to continue on some thoughts from yesterday. It is easy for us to read the New Testament and criticize the Jewish believers who failed to recognize Jesus as the very fulfillment of that on which they had been waiting. However, a closer look at the biblical history can help us realize that we may have been prone to the very same blindness had we been in their place. A reading of the Scriptures that the Jewish people had at the time (the Old Testament) reveals a picture of a messianic restoration that would give most of us expectations that Jesus seemingly failed to meet. Therein lays the critical point, that they had certain expectations. It was not that it was wrong to have expectations, but that they failed to overcome their unmet expectations.
It helps to keep in mind that God had promised to establish David’s throne forever. When Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed in 586 B.C. the seemingly unthinkable had happened. Some seventy years later the Israelites were released from exile. Some years after that they were able to rebuild the city and the Temple. Yet, something was missing. There was still no true monarchy, no political power, and no mighty military. Israel was back as a people, but not as a kingdom. So, they waited for God to reestablish his throne, rightly discerning that He would do that through His chosen Messiah. When that happened Israel would be more than God’s chosen people, it would be the very Kingdom of God.
Four hundred years later Jesus shows up, born from an unspectacular lineage under suspicious circumstances. As people begin to wonder if He really could be the Messiah He begins to teach that “the Kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21). He eventually helped His disciples see themselves as the true Temple of God (1 Cor. 3:16). Perhaps our response would have been, “That sounds nice, but I believe God has bigger plans than that!” If we were already questioning His seemingly narrow vision then His sudden apparent demise on a Roman cross would have finalized our doubt in Him and His message.
If that is not enough consider John the Baptist, of whom Jesus said there had been no one greater. He once proclaimed the coming of the Kingdom with power and justice. Yet, as he sat alone in a dungeon he began to question why his expectations had not yet been filled and had his disciples ask Jesus, “Are you the expected one, or shall we look for another?” (Matt. 11:3). Yes, it could happen to us. In fact, it probably has. What kind of expectations do you have today? More importantly, how will you overcome your unmet expectations when they crash in on you? Is it possible they are actually part of God’s plan?