Text: Luke 7:11-35 | Listen to Message
When Experience And Expectations Don’t Match
“Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another? That is, “Jesus, are you the promised Messiah – the one foretold by the prophets – or should we be looking for someone else altogether?” It’s a fair question.
But these are strange words – even startling words – when you consider the source! Not long before, John the Baptist had pointed his own disciples to Jesus and cried, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” John’s own hands had baptized Jesus. John’s own eyes had seen the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove and remain on Jesus. John’s own ears had heard the voice booming from heaven, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” John’s own lips had testified that this was, indeed, the Son of God.
So how can that same John now ask, “Are you really the Messiah, Jesus, or did I get it all wrong?”
The simple answer is that John’s experience of Jesus did not match his expectations for Jesus.
You see, John knew what the prophets had said: when the Messiah comes, there will be deliverance for God’s people and judgment upon God’s enemies. So John (and everyone else) expected Jesus to a Warrior-King like David – a king who would save the Jews by judging the oppressive pagan nations around them. But that’s not what Jesus was doing. There was no army. No judgment. No vitriol directed at Rome. In fact, one of Jesus’ last miracles had been done for the benefit of a Roman centurion!
So John, steeped in his Jewish cultural expectations, began to wonder to himself, “How can Jesus be the One if he’s not doing what any of us expect?”
But there’s another more personal reason that John began to doubt: he was in prison. You see, King Herod wasn’t amused by this Jewish prophet who dared to rebuke him for his lengthy list of evils, so he silenced him by locking him up. And John sits in a prison cell, day after day, with no rescue. No word from Jesus. Only the frustration of having served God…for this.
Understandably, in the midst of his disappointment and discomfort, John wonders, “Was I wrong about Jesus? I mean, if he’s really the One, then where is he? Why hasn’t he come for me?”
Now listen to Jesus’ response. He says, “Tell John this: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
In effect, Jesus is saying, “John, I may not be the Savior you want right now, but trust me to be the Savior the world needs.”
Make no mistake, one day Jesus will return in judgment. But when God first visited His people through the incarnation of His Son, it was to offer the Good News of healing and grace to the ends of the earth. And when we encounter our own frustrations with Jesus because he’s not doing what we expect him to do, we’d be wise to hope in this: Jesus is exactly what we need even when he’s not always exactly what we want.