Monday, June 21, 2010

Expectations of Jesus

By Alan Smith

After being with his blind date all evening, the man couldn't take another minute with her. Earlier, he had secretly arranged to have a friend call him to the phone so he would have an excuse to leave if something like this happened.
When he returned to the table, he lowered his eyes, put on a grim expression and said, "I have some bad news. My grandfather just died."

"Thank goodness," his date replied. "If yours hadn't, mine would have had to!"

I am so glad that I don't have to deal with the "dating scene" -- worrying about making a good first impression so that I can meet her expectations and trying to deal with the awkwardness of the situation if she's doesn't meet my expectations. That's especially the problem with "blind dates", something I managed to avoid altogether in my dating years. You get an image in your mind of what your date is going to be like (or what you hope she's going to be like), and it often doesn't take much to shatter that misconception. Granted, your date could possibly turn out to be better than you expected, but it seldom seems to work out that way.

That was a problem that Jesus faced when he came to this earth. He should have been greeted with open arms -- after all, he was the long-awaited Messiah. The problem is that the Jews had expectations of what the Messiah would be like. For most of the Jews, that preconception involved an earthly king who would boot the Romans out of the land and assume control. In fact, they were quite prepared to make Jesus that king (John 6:15).

Even without that misconception, though, none of the Jews could imagine a Messiah hanging on a cross. So the cross became a "stumbling block" to the Jews and "foolishness" to the Greeks (I Cor. 1:23). Jesus didn't meet their expectations and they hurried to find a way to end the relationship.

Philip Yancey deals with this topic in his book "The Jesus I Never Knew". He speaks of his own misconceptions of Jesus at an early age: "I recalled the Sunday school image of Jesus that I grew up with:someone kind and reassuring, with no sharp edges at all -- a Mister Rogers before the age of children's television."
Certainly Jesus was kind and reassuring, but he was so much more than that -- he was a man who was strong (physically and emotionally) and passionate.

What's important is that we allow the Gospels to define who Jesus was, and not expect him to measure up to our preconceived ideas. I challenge you to read the Gospels in a fresh light. Remove all expectations and allow the Word of God to define and shape who Jesus was. I guarantee the Messiah will turn out to be better than you expected!

"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:14)
Have a great day!

- Alan Smith, author of the popular "Thought For Today," and minister for the White House church of Christ in White House, TN, may be contacted at

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