Year’s later Sally and I discovered the television program, Antiques Road Show ~ people bring household treasures to be evaluated by experts. One of the occasional recurring items was stuffed animals. I learned vintage stuffed bears made by Steiff were collectible. I got to thinking Sally had a stuffed bear tucked somewhere in the back of our closet ~ I got out Sally’s bear and looked for the signature markings ~ is it a Steiff bear? Sure enough, the stitched nose, the padded feet, the stuffing... , even the over-alls have protected the fur. I also learned Bears with growlers are more rare and make the bears more desirable. Suddenly I saw Pooh Bear in a new light! Pooh Bear is a Steiff Bear, and a desirable bear, and a valuable bear. Instantly I no longer heard a moo ~ I heard a growl (want to hear it?). Just like that, Pooh Bear was moved from the back of the closet to a prominent place on a shelf. I had no idea the true nature of Pooh Bear!
What changed? It wasn’t Pooh Bear ~ Pooh Bear was the same from the beginning … what changed was me, my knowledge, my appreciation, my attitude…
The problem that gets us into trouble is assumptions. I had no idea there was more to Pooh Bear than that he was an old stuffed bear that had belonged to Sally when she was a child. All I could hear was a moo instead of a growl. Increase your expectations of Christ. Allow the triumphant King to shout into your life ~ when your eyes are at last open to the truth of who Christ is the moo that you once heard will be turned into a growl. Jesus Christ does not change. His character is the same. His promises are always true ~ it is you that is changed. The problem is so often our false assumptions. One person said, “assumptions are the termites of relationships” (Henry Winkler)… they slowly eat away. What we assume about God does the same thing. When Jesus entered Jersusalem on a donkey, the people assumed certain things about him, but when they did not quickly see their false expectations become reality, they turned on the Lord.
Wrestle with your expectations of Christ. When things don’t happen exactly as we expect, or in our timing, we so easily become complacent. We fall into the trap of living our lives like the person who said, “Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed” (Alexander Pope). Is that what we do with Jesus? It is safer, because then we cannot be disappointed. Another person: “I find my life is a lot easier the lower I keep my expectations” (Bill Watterson). Perhaps understandable, but that is a sad way to live. The Lord Jesus Christ wants more for you ~ you can expect a tremendous amount from Jesus because of his character and his promises.
“Rejoice Greatly” today’s Bible verse says. Be excited. “Shout” it goes on to say ~ let the world know you are excited, that you are anticipating great things, live with confidence in the promises of God! The greater our expectations the more meaning we will find in daily living and the more impact we will have for Christ on the people around us…. Never does the Bible say expect to be defeated, never does it say to give up, or even to be neutral. We are NOT to live as stoics… EXPECTATIONS are a powerful key to living a meaningful and joyful life.
In the days of Zechariah, Israel had returned to the land of Israel after a 70 year exile in Babylon. The capital city of Jerusalem, including the temple, was destroyed. Zechariah, (which means, “God remembers,”) is sent to the people about 15 years after the return. The temple is still in ruins. God sent Zechariah to motivate the people, to encourage, to raise their expectations. The good news is that no matter how discouraged we become, no matter how much we are tempted to lower our expectations of what God will do, God does not forget Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey gives us one more opportunity to recognize the promises of God at work, one more opportunity to be excited and rejoice greatly. God will work out his purposes ~ they are never failing. Our attitudes have no power to thwart the will of God! Yet the miracle of the Bible is that God wants us engaged in what he is up to ~ he invites us to Rejoice Greatly, he wants us to raise our expectations, to be excited about what he is doing, to celebrate with him!
I read through Zechariah in preparation for this message ~ one scholar counts that this little book is referred to 71 times in the New Testament. Of all the Old Testament prophets, it has more references to the coming of Jesus Christ, than any other prophecy! When you are most discouraged, God will not forget. God meets us at the point of our deepest needs. Listen closely, and where you think you hear a moo, it is actually a growl! Wrestle with your expectations. Expect more of Christ. Expect more people t come to Christ, expect lives to change, people to find the joy of the Lord… Let’s strive to rid ourselves of the false assumptions that plague us.
Zechariah rivals the prophet Isaiah in giving us a pre-view of Jesus ~~ the betrayal are in these pages, 30 pieces of gold, the death of Jesus… I’d like to read a couple of the gems from the prophecy of Zechariah. READ Zech. 8:23. Isn’t that tremendous? When Jesus entered Jerusalem he had a most unlikely cast of characters with him, the lame, the blind, the imperfect… “we heard that God was with you.” Something of Jesus character made him a tremendously inviting person…
READ Zech. 14:9 ~ we are still waiting for this day to be completely fulfilled. The Lord is coming. The entry into Jerusalem is a glimpse of an even greater day that is coming when every knee will bow before the Lord and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Raise our expectations. Believe in the promises. Anticipate… Let the moo be turned into a growl, the only thing that has to change is YOU, your expectations.
You and I have a tremendous advantage over those who were alive when Jesus first entered Jerusalem. We know the end of the story. If I would have been in that crowd when Jesus entered Jerusalem I am sure I would have been shouting his praises too, assuming he was a conquering King… but I would have also been in that same crowd less than a week later shouting my approval of his crucifixion on the cross. I have the advantage in that I know the end of the story, I know Jesus died on the cross, I know he was raised to new life, I know he is coming again and will usher in the new age of eternal life. The Lord is coming! Amen!
Zechariah promised a king at a time when there was no king. The people in Jesus days desperately wanted a righteous King to save them from the Roman oppressors. We need to raise our expectations of God, but our expectations must be based on what he promises us rather than our wishful thinking. A wonderful gift may not be wrapped as you expect it! I unwrapped a small box once, it had a note that led to another part of the house, it was a treasure hunt that ended up in the shed and a new bike. Unexpected. And that’s the way it is with God’s promises.
Zech. 9:9 ~ Your King Comes to you! There is the promise, the expectation… righteous ~ that means the coming King will have a good and right relationship with God. No problem with that. And he’ll have salvation! No quibbles with that either. Salvation. We all have a need to be rescued from our sins, a need for more and greater meaning. The coming King has the power to fulfill God’s promise of salvation.
But then the prophecy continues: “Gentle and riding on a donkey…” You may not recognize the Steiff Bear and the true value… you may not see that Jesus is both gentle and a victorious King. How can you rejoice greatly when Jesus is not acting as you wish him to act, when your life is falling apart and you feel abandoned, when you are about to give up hope that your life will turn around because it’s been so long….
Wrestle with your expectations! We know God is faithful to his promises, but his promises may find fulfillment in ways that we don’t expect. Even when the promise is in plain view. I had no idea Pooh Bear was valuable ~ the growl sounded like a moo to me. Early on in the book of Zechariah (Zech 1:12) the question is asked, “how long will you withhold mercy…” how long before your promises are fulfilled? Expectations means waiting, patience. Expectations means waiting rightly.
The Lord is coming, the King is coming, gentle and riding on a donkey. At first it seems incompatible, the growl sounds so much like a moo, but wait, wait patiently, and while you are waiting REJOICE GREATLY. Your life will be transformed as you wrestle with your expectations. Let Jesus be Jesus and celebrate his divine nature!
No matter what is happening in your life, do not be discouraged, but learn to wait expectantly, May our message to the world be to expect great things from God, and to expect God to come to us on His terms, in his way, in his character. The King is coming, and he is a gentle king, a king of peace. God’s promises are sure. His promises may not be wrapped as you expect, but they are absolutely guaranteed. May the moo you hear be turned into a growl as you come to recognize God’s hand of mercy upon you in ways that are greater than you can possibly imagine. Raise your expectations, Rejoice greatly, shout, See, your king comes.
EXPECTATIONS are a powerful key to living a meaningful and joyful life.