What Do We Expect of God?
The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” And with many other words John exhorted the people and proclaimed the good news to them. But when John rebuked Herod the tetrarch because of his marriage to Herodias, his brother’s wife, and all the other evil things he had done, Herod added this to them all: He locked John up in prison. Luke 3:15-20
John the Baptist was fiery and loud, unafraid to cause a ruckus. He spoke out against the corruption of the political leaders. He definitely did not promote the status quo. No wonder the people thought he might be the long awaited Messiah – the one who would overthrow Rome and Make Israel Great Again.
A lot of people in John’s day would have resonated with this description of what the Messiah would be:
How beautiful are the eyes of the King Messiah who is to arise from the House of Judah! He girds his loins and goes out to war against his enemies, and kills kings and rulers, reddening the mountains with the blood of their slain. (Palestinian Targum, Codex Neofiti, 1st century AD)
They wanted a Messiah who would give them victory over their enemies and who would give them political power again. They saw in John one who looked like he might have what it took to do that.
But John disappointed them. He got thrown in prison – and then beheaded. And the Messiah they were waiting for disappointed them as well – he was arrested and crucified.
Many times it seems that God does not fulfill our expectations. Perhaps that doesn’t mean that God’s not there or that God’s not at work. It might just mean that we’re expecting the wrong things. Ask God today to show you where your expectations are misplaced, and ask God to help you have appropriate expectations of the spiritual journey and of his involvement in your life (and in this world.)