Have you ever stopped and thought about the level of your expectations?
Just humor me for a minute.
What are your expectations of your kids?
Do you expect them to behave? To obey? To clean up their dishes after dinner? To do their homework?
How about your marriage or our spouse in particular? Do you expect them to be faithful? Do you expect a certain element of role they will fulfill?
What about your job, do you expect them to pay you?
See what I mean?
We have expectations about everything around us in life.
Some of them are reasonable, I expect the garbage company I’ve paid to take my trash to do so every week and they expect that I will pay them when they send me a bill.
Nearly everything in our lives revolves around some level of expectation.
And our relationship with Christ is nothing less. Have you ever thought about the expectations you brought with you when you came to Christ?
Recently I was thinking through Matthew 11 and a conversation between JTB and Jesus. John the Baptist, (not to be confused with the Presbyterian, the Episcopalian, or the Catholic), JTB wasn’t actually able to have a conversation with Jesus because at that time he was incarcerated.
This is a pivotal moment for John! and not a pretty one at that.
When we come upon this interaction, John sends a cohort to visit where Jesus is at work with a simple question- “Are you who we are expecting or is there another.”
And Jesus. Dear Jesus, does what only He can do. He doesn’t answer them directly but goes on to heal the blind, beaten and broken and then redirects John’s team to return to him and respond with what they have seen. He also injects a reciprocal question- is that what you were expecting?
The very nature of John’s question is what troubles me.
“Are you who we should be expecting?”
Isn’t he implying a level of doubt here? Isn’t he displaying a question of confusion? Does anyone else have trouble digesting that the one who Jesus says would be above all the rest that are born of woman is struggling with the certainly of Jesus?
Wasn’t this the same John the Baptist who declared before this in John 1 that “this is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
The same one that so emphatically declared that “He must increase and I must decrease.” and also that, “he’s the one that I’m not able or worthy to even unbuckle his sandal”?
If he was so devout and sure of himself then, why now is he so confused about who this is now!?
Well, allow me to answer my own question.
It’s because his situation changed.
Have you ever realized that you can be okay with however your life looks at any given point so long as you know to expect the same or better tomorrow?
So long as it doesn’t get worse, I’m good with what I am experiencing.
John was human as you and I. Naturally, he would have struggled with some of the downfall of his following Christ.
It was one thing to be dressed in camel hair and eat locust and honey. I’m good with that, it’s what I’ve come to expect.
But what he didn’t expect was to be thrown in prison for it and to eventually lose his head for the sake of the gospel.
When your situation changes, everything looks different.
Was what I was believing truth? Was I led astray because I miss believed?
Can you imagine some of the prayers that echoed through the walls of that dungeon where he was being held? Some of the most passionate words of desperation that could have been prayed no doubt sounded around those walls. And yet day after day, the resolve and faith of this man, had to have strained. Clearly to the point of confusion- Jesus, are you the one we are expecting. Because at one point I was certain, but since things changed, now I’m not so sure.