Have you ever received a gift that you wanted to just give right back?
We’re just a few weeks until Christmas and I imagine you have so many gifts that you have purchased for people you love. You are so excited and eager to be able to give those gifts and see the response and reaction on their faces as they open their new treasure that you worked so hard to figure out! And then, when that moment arrives, and they just don’t have the response you are looking for! Oh what pain!
There they’ll be the day following Christmas, standing in line with the other 10,000 people in the Walmart return line wanting to send it back because it’s just not what they expected it would be.
That’s the very nature of gifts though. Someone else’s idea of what you would like! Sometimes you’re wrong and sometimes you just hit it over the top, but I really want to encourage you, don’t stop trying!
When I think about this concept, and what this season is really all about, I cannot help but think about the way people treated Christ when they first recognized him as the promised Messiah–the gift that was mentioned more than 700 years before his arrival!
The atmosphere surrounding that promises was incredibly charged with tension. The people of Israel were facing some of the most severe fights and wars but they had turned indifferent. So long as the war didn’t directly affect them, they really had no concern or care what was happening in the world. However, as soon as that fighting or threat came close to them, they were beckoning and begging that the Lord would intervene and relieve them from this darkness and death with which they were surrounded.
It’s in that moment that Isaiah captures the Word of the Lord to the world in Isaiah 9 with:
For a child has been born—for us! the gift of a son—for us! He’ll take over the running of the world. His names will be: Amazing Counselor, Strong God, Eternal Father, Prince of Wholeness. His ruling authority will grow, and there’ll be no limits to the wholeness he brings. He’ll rule from the historic David throne over that promised kingdom. He’ll put that kingdom on a firm footing and keep it going With fair dealing and right living, beginning now and lasting always.Isaiah 9:6-7 MSG
I love that one line–He’ll take over the running of the world!
Can you imagine hearing those words! It must have been so wonderful to hear that the LORD God had plans to alleviate their pain and darkness and bring them into the fullness of joy!
Little did they know it would never happen during their lifetime. Nor their children, or grandchildren or even great-grandchildren. Nope, not for 700 years and even when it did happen, it was totally different than what they had expected.
In fact, when Jesus arrived on scene there must have been so much opinion about what Jesus would look like when he arrived. There had been 700+ years of self-described “scholars” to explain what the Lord meant in that promise and for the people to create their own opinion about how the Lord would come and take over the running of the world.
There is no doubt in my mind that what they were thinking in that description was that the Lord would show up on a super silver horse, wearing a crown, looking like a King and with a huge army behind him and his mission was to destroy any enemy that stood against those who would call him king, while at the same time, handing out lottery level winnings to all the cool kids that had enough faith to believe in him before he came. Yeah!
I almost get this picture that when they were looking for Jesus, they were standing right next to him and describing what they envisioned to Jesus and Jesus himself thinking, man, I’d love to see that too!
Everything Jesus did on this earth was specific.
There’s not a moment he lived that was just on accident. It was planned.
So the day of his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, he knew…
He’s walking into the capital city. He’s orchestrated the donkey situation and when the people see this, they immediately think, this is the moment! This is it, we’re going to see it with our own eyes. Jesus is going into Jerusalem to take the throne, overthrow the government and give us those lottery level winnings he promised through Isaiah!
And yet what they witnessed over the coming hours was totally opposite. It was nothing of what they thought it was going to be and what they had come to expect in all those years of expecting.
In their sad display of irony, they totally and utterly completely rejected this gift! They literally demanded that it be sent back. On the day he rode into town it was Hosanna–Save Us, that they screamed. Just hours later they would change that to Crucify Him–He’s not what we wanted!
Is He want you expected?
If you let Him be, He will actually become more than you would ever expect. He will wow you in wonder for every day of your existence but in order to do that, you’ve got to erase your expectation.