Some of the people of Jerusalem therefore said, “Is not this the man whom they seek to kill? And here he is, speaking openly, and they say nothing to him! Can it be that the authorities really know that this is the Christ? But we know where this man comes from, and when the Christ appears, no one will know where he comes from.”
Have you ever been pleasantly surprised? You expect something to turn out one way, but in the end, the results are completely different. You liked the results; they just weren’t what you had anticipated. Or maybe you’ve been strangely disappointed. Again, you expected something to turn out one way, but in the end, the results were completely different. And you were not happy.
Well, to some degree, Jesus was an unexpected Savior. He was not unanticipated, for the Jews had been waiting for Him for years. But He was definitely unexpected. You see, the Jews in Jesus’ time were looking for a Savior, but when He actually appeared, they did not recognize Him. Why? Jesus did not fit their expectations–their preconceived notions; He did not match what they had envisioned their Savior would look and act like. He wasn’t rich. He wasn’t of noble birth. He wasn’t domineering. He was the son of a carpenter from the city of Nazareth. Even His hometown didn’t fit their expectations. At one point in the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, Nathanael, who would indeed become one of The Twelve, replied to Philip’s proclamation that they had “found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote,” with “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46). Nathanael wasn’t necessarily demeaning Nazareth; he was questioning God’s Anointed One being a Nazarene. Nathanael was really asking, “Can the Messiah come from Nazareth?”
For if you think about it, everyone who had read the Scriptures had also assumed Jesus would come from Bethlehem; and indeed He was born there, thus fulfilling the Scriptures (see Matthew 2). On the other hand, He was also a Nazarene. For after being born in Bethlehem, he was raised in Galilee. According to Matthew, the place Jesus was raised was indeed another prophecy fulfilled; it just happened to be one that many Jews had not considered since it had only been spoken, not written (see Matthew 2:23). Even more, His hometown of Nazareth was an area considered lesser than the other areas of Galilee. This means the Savior of the world was raised in an overlooked, under-appreciated area. He wasn’t popular. He wasn’t privileged. He was a carpenter’s son living life in a small town.
Nevertheless, this unexpected Savior fulfilled all the prophecies spoken and written about Him. All of them. He did not, however, necessarily fulfill those prophecies in a way people anticipated or even wanted. Jesus didn’t come wielding a golden scepter proclaiming His authority and overthrowing the government. Jesus came as a servant, humbly walking out His Father’s plan, even submitting to the government. He had authority, but He didn’t flaunt it. He knew the Word because He was The Word.
And the Jews just couldn’t grasp this. They weren’t pleasantly surprised; they were utterly disappointed and very confused. In John 6-7, the Jews continually questioned where Jesus was getting His authority. In John 6:41-42, we read, “So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, ‘I am the bread that came down from heaven.’ They said, ‘Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, “I have come down from heaven”?'” In John 7:15, the Jews “marveled, saying, ‘How is it that this man has learning, when he has never studied?'” In John 7:41-42, some questioned, “Is the Christ to come from Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David, and come from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” And of course in the passage at the beginning of this post, people assumed that since they knew Jesus’ physical hometown, then He must not be the Messiah.
Yet Jesus was indeed God in the Flesh. He was indeed the fulfillment of the Scriptures. But the Jesus who came to seek and save the lost came differently than expected. And by doing so, He was overlooked, He was scorned, and He was doubted time and time again. Ultimately, His unexpected ways led to His ultimate sacrifice; for if they had truly known who Jesus was, then they would not have killed him. But they killed the One they did not understand; and in doing so, they killed the very answer to their prayers.
Looking back now, it is quite obvious to us His believers that Jesus was indeed the Messiah; we see clearly how Jesus fulfilled the prophesies. We see clearly where He came from and His purpose for coming to earth the way He came. Yet hindsight is often twenty-twenty, isn’t it? If we are honest with ourselves, however, how many times have we missed the boat because God worked in a way we were not anticipating? What we thought would happen didn’t happen, and we were left disappointed, confused, even angry. Yet we must realize that sometimes those unrealized expectations might just mean we expected the wrong outcome.
Yes, we should always have hope; we should always look ahead and look forward to that plans God has for us. But instead of putting God in a box, we should allow Him room to be God. Rather than expect specifics, we should expect God.
That’s it. Expect God.
Expect God to show up in every circumstance. Expect God to be very present in every aspect of your life. Expect God to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think(Ephesians 3:20).
For we must remember, we are not God, and our thoughts are not like His either. We can expect God to keep His promises. We can expect God to remain faithful. Yet we should not expect God to follow our humanly devised plans, dreams, or expectations. We must remember God Himself reminds us in Isaiah,
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
1so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, and what God plans will come to pass; God will accomplish what He purposes to do.
So I ask you today. What are you expecting? Are you expecting an apology from someone who hurt you? Are you expecting a response to that e-mail you sent? Are you expecting a text, a phone call, a letter? What are you expecting?
Let me encourage you in this. Expect God. Fix your eyes on Him, and seek Him first. And in doing so, you’ll soon realize that when you expect God, you’ll never be disappointed.