Expecting Jesus

What are your expectations of Jesus this Advent season?

Whatever they are, he is likely to surprise you, for Jesus consistently confounded expectations. The Jews had been expecting a Messiah who would reign on David’s throne and restore Israel to a position of international prominence.  Instead, Jesus was born in a stable and lived a humble and relatively obscure life.

The Return of the Prodigal Son by Rembrandt

During his short ministry Jesus never played along with cultural expectations. He hung out with those on the margins of respectable society, defied Pharisaic rules, and told the most unexpected stories. A father welcoming back his loser son? A Samaritan doing the right thing for a wounded traveler after religious leaders had failed to help him? (To get the sense of how shocking that would have been to Jesus’s audience, change Jesus’s audience to the crowd at a Democrat party convention and the Samaritan to a Tea Party Republican and you’ll get the idea.)

Jesus demonstrated his Messianic credentials by performing numerous miracles. He healed the blind and the lame, and he proved his power over demons, disease, and the deep things of nature.  But rather than conquering Rome, like the Messiah was supposed to do, Jesus exploded expectations by submitting to an arrest, trial and execution at the hands of Roman authorities. The only thing that was more shocking was his resurrection three days later.

Christmas marks the miraculous birth of the Savior no one expected.

He is still in the business of doing the most surprising things.  Jesus shows me mercy when I deserve condemnation.  He is patient when I expect exasperation.  He is a generous giver of unexpected and undeserved gifts.  I limit him by my lack of faith, and yet he patiently teaches me to believe him for the impossible.  I am learning to expect the unexpected.

What do you expect of Jesus?

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