Jesus defies expectations. Always. He exceeds them. And when we try to place expectations on Him from the confines of our finite minds-He seemingly fails them. Yet, in reality, He is still defying and exceeding them. We have just simply underestimated Him and how He works in our lives. He was defying expectations at each step that took Him closer to the cross.
The crowds expectations were defied at the triumphal entry (Mark 11:1-11; Mt 21:1-9; Luke 19:29-40; John 12:12, 19) when He entered the town on a borrowed ass's colt rather than a great white horse. Can you imagine their surprise and possible disappointment when their long awaited Messiah came in? I can see it-hear it. The crestfallen faces and weary sighs....the uncertainty. And as they quickly recover and shake the incredulity that gnawed at them, they rush to throw cloaks over the colt and ground. Maybe this was to give themselves some consolation or to make a statement of honor, because I don't think Jesus was bothered by the crudeness and ugliness of the colt.
The Pharisee's must have been quite smug. Thinking, "No King would ride an ass - let alone a borrowed one." They admonished those around them-telling them to stop their praises.
Yet, the crowd could not stop their praises. Shouting "Hosanna" which translates to "save us". In essence, their hearts yearned for a Savior. There had to be some confusion when He rode in like that. Yet, to this multitude of people, Christ was the Messiah that would establish rule and a powerful kingdom that would eventually bring the restoration of Israel. And, nothing could change their hope of a Savior. Nothing could change what they had already seen Him accomplish. And this humble King with an unrivaled humility would be honored through their praises, palm branches, and simple cloaks.
But even in this, He is still defying their expectations. His established Kingdom would do much more than restore the people at that time, it would restore all mankind for all time to come. They were praising Him for something so small in comparison to what He would truly accomplish. I wonder how often we do that without realizing it? Praising God for what we think He will do or what we expect Him to do - when He plans to do so much more than our minds could comprehend.
I can imagine expectations were defied no more so than when Jesus sat with His disciples at the Last Supper. The gospel of John reveals a series of conversations and occurrences that take place through the time of the Last Supper right before He was arrested. (John 13-17)
The Son of God knows His destination. He is not unaware. He knows the gory details of what is soon to occur. He anticipates the responses of those that love Him and those that hate Him. Yet, here He is and this is what He does.
He sits at the table with those that will doubt Him, betray Him, and deny Him. He breaks bread and shares drink. He COMMUNES with them. He shares His time and His care. Jesus teaches them and takes time to help them understand what is to happen as He uses the broken bread to represent His broken body and the wine to represent the blood that will flow for their freedom.
He washes their feet as an act of service and love. He, the King - the promised Messiah, washes the feet of those like Judas who would bitterly betray Him to death. This like Peter, who professed love and an undying commitment, would shamefully deny knowledge of Him. He washed their feet. The lamb soon to be slain for the sins of mankind. Their sin. The Savior of the world. He washed them. They should have been washing His feet.
He promises them hope, love, comfort, joy, and more. He encourages them and invites them to find life in Him, that if they remain in Him, He will remain in them and their lives will be full and fruitful.
This man, the one that leaves us bewildered, yet awed, blows it all out of the water when He shares these thoughts. He says to those that have and will disappoint Him the most, those that should be fully ashamed of themselves, those that - in His darkest hour - showed the littlest concern or care for Him. He says, I love you. I bring comfort to you. Do not be afraid. I am watching out for you. I am providing for you. Believe in me. Trust in me. Hope in me. I am truth. I am Life. Ask me for anything, and I will respond. But if you love me, if you can do anything to honor me - love others as I have loved you. Serve as I have served you.
- We are broken, failures, and imperfect messes. We are those disciples. And He loves us, communes with us, died for us, just as He did them. No amount of pain, sorrow, or sin can separate us from His love. His death, His broken body is our healing. His resurrection has brought us life. His promises then are His promises now. What incredible hope is found in Jesus Christ.
- We are to love. He loved us ALL. There are no exceptions to that command to love and serve. We take His example and we love and serve. Those that betray us, those that fail us, those that hurt and offend. Every life is worth His sacrifice and love which means every life is worth our love. He communed with the very ones that would fail Him miserably. He didn't like what they did, he called them out and admonished them-but He loved and served them.
- Jesus defies expectations. The same crowd that praised Him and followed Him was the same crowd that crucified Him. Why? He didn't meet their expectations? They didn't understand the big picture? What is my response when Jesus doesn't meet my expectations because in His soveriegnty and love-He knows better? What is your response? What box of our own understanding are we trying to fit Him in?
Love those that hate you. Serve those that deny you. Grief, yet joy. Sorrow, yet rejoicing. Poor, yet rich. And the list goes on.
Amazed. Awed. Completely humbled. What an incredible Savior.