False or unfair expectations of other people lead to disappointment. We do that to our leaders. Our schools. I like what Mark Johnson, Superintendent of NV Schools, said a couple months ago. At a gathering everyone introduced themselves. Mark’s turn: “I’m Mark Johnson, Superintendent. I think sometime people think that means I have more authority than I really do.”
We become discouraged with God when we have unfair expectations of the way the world is supposed to turn; when God doesn’t follow through the way we imagine, we are disappointed. We are like the man in a hot air balloon that realized he was lost:
The man on the ground told him: "You are in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground. You are between 40 and 41 degrees north latitude and between 59 and 60 degrees west longitude."
"You must be an engineer," said the balloonist. "I am," replied the man, "How did you know?"
"Well," answered the balloonist, "everything you told me is technically correct, but I have no idea what to make of your information, and the fact is I am still lost. Frankly, you've not been much help."
The man below replied, "You must be a manager." "I am," replied the balloonist, “how did you know?"
"Well, you don't know where you are or where you are going. You have risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise that you have no idea how to keep, and you expect me to solve your problem. The fact is, you are in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but now, somehow, it's my fault."
This is not only what we do to other people, but to God. We make a mess of our lives. We make a mess of our world. Then we want God to bail us out without inconvenience, according to our rules, and when he doesn’t, we blame him. What do we expect from Jesus Christ? It is easy to treat Jesus like a first aid kit ~ You use when you need a band aid, or burn your finger. Otherwise he sits, waiting for the emergency. What do you expect from Christ? The key to being a disciple of Christ is not to impose expectations of your design on Him, but rather, submit to Him, His guidance, and let Him lead you. Jesus is the head of the church, not the first aid kit. He is like a coach who sets the agenda, working with team members, determining the role of each player, orchestrating the best way forward. Rather than imposing your expectations on God, turn it around, and seek to live under His expectations of you. REPEAT.
This is the bottom line message of the dialogue with “a women in the crowd” in Luke 11:27-28. READ. Jesus does not dismiss the compliment of the woman, but he makes it clear she has missed the central challenge of what it means to follow Christ. One person called her a sentimentalist ~ a person who has a romantic notion of what is most important but misses the deeper truth. For sure Jesus admired and respected his mother, but the more important need is for those who follow Jesus to commit themselves to his Lordship, listen to what he has to say, and follow the way of Christ. READ Luke 11:28.
As the scripture continues, the crowd that is growing larger and larger, has false expectations of Jesus. It is not about hearing and obeying, but it is becoming about wanting more proof of who Jesus is because he is not meeting their expectations. This is Jesus response to expand their thinking: READ Luke 11:29-30.
Wow. Jesus calls them “a wicked generation”? because they ask for a miraculous sign. Seems harsh! But that is the severity of the judgment of Jesus for making everything about themselves: it is your responsibility Jesus to prove to me to my satisfaction that you are who you say you are. They wanted Jesus to perform some kind of miracle that would prove to them that He was the Messiah. Jesus said that He wasn't going to give them a sign except for the sign of Jonah the prophet.
I don't get how they could still be seeking a sign from Jesus to prove Himself. At this point in Luke, Jesus has performed many miracles witnessed by the crowds. In Luke 4 Jesus drove out an evil spirit in the synagogue, healed Peter's mother-in-law, and healed many people. In Luke 5, Jesus healed a man with leprosy and a paralyzed man. Luke 7 finds Jesus in the town of Nain raising a widow's son from the dead. Jesus calms a storm, heals a demoniac, heals a bleeding woman and raises Jairus' daughter. Five thousand were miraculously fed in Luke 9. And they demand more! Rather than owning their unbelief, they shift the blame to Jesus making him responsible. False expectations are like greed for money: I need a little bit more…
We are living in a world, “a wicked generation,” that is making everything about me. There is an unrest in this present age, an ugliness and disrespect towards our fellow man and other nations. I am having a harder and harder time watching the news in the aftermath of the latest tragedies, this week the shooting of black men and then the Dallas cops being shot…I am having a harder time in all the division in interpreting the tragic events! And we look to Jesus to stop all the killings, all the violence, the name calling, the division, and unless he acts in our way we hold back our commitment to Him. But that is backwards. We must let God resolve the problems of this world in His way…. It’s like the man who said that if you have a problem, turn to God and say, “God, you’ve got a problem.” That is the privilege of following Jesus. Instead of imposing your expectations on God, seek to live under His expectations of you.
How do we respond to the unrest of this present day as Christians who believe in the Lordship of Jesus Christ? Instead of telling God what we want Him to do, ask Him what he wants me to do. What does he expect of us? “Blessed are they that hear the word of God and obey it.” Add a few words to the title of this message: “What do you expect of me, God?”
Jesus is dismayed the people want more proof. They’ve already had a boatload of miracles but that was not enough. People with false expectations will never be satisfied. Jesus says there will be no further proof of His Lordship, except the “Sign of Jonah.”
Jonah was called by God to preach to the city of Nineveh so they would repent. At first Jonah ran away… it’s a great story worth reading. Jonah had his own ideas and wanted God to destroy Nineveh (is Jonah a racist?). He got on a boat and went in the opposite direction. God caused a great storm, and Jonah, knowing he was the cause, had the sailors throw him into the sea. The storm calmed and a huge fish swallowed him. Jonah spent three days and nights in the belly of the fish. He then repented and was vomited onto dry land. He rushed to Nineveh and delivered a message of repentance. All of Nineveh turned to the Lord.
The sign of Jonah refers to Jonah in the belly of the fish ~ it was as if he were dead and then came back to life. The sign of Jonah foreshadows the literal death of Jesus Christ, three days in the grave. In the greatest miracle in history, Jesus Christ rose from the dead. For the people of Jesus day the sign of Jonah was a future prophecy, for us the Resurrection is past. We do not need one more miracle. We need to believe Jesus is victorious over death, hell and the grave. He is the Lord of Lords. Woe to those who demand one more sign, woe to us who impose false expectations of how he should turn this world around. Jesus Christ ROSE FROM THE DEAD. No other sign is needed.
The resurrection of Jesus is our sign of who Jesus is and that His message is true. The resurrection of Jesus validates everything He said about Himself and the work of redemption accomplished at Calvary. In spite of the resurrection, the vast majority of people in Jesus' day right up to the present day don't believe in Jesus' message of love and redemption. They want Jesus to fit into their box. They want him to be like the first aid kit on the shelf. False expectations are placed on the Lord.
Jesus uses the Queen of the South and the people of Nineveh as positive examples of people who searched for wisdom and repented. They embraced God in his terms rather than imposing false demands on God. READ Luke 11:31-32.
You can read about the Queen of the South, or the Queen of Sheba, in 1 Kings 10. She had heard about the wisdom of Solomon, and at great personal sacrifice, money, time and energy, she traveled from “the ends of the earth” (modern day Yemen). She listened, she heard, and she believed in the God of Solomon. Jesus uses her as an example of a person who simply believed and accepted the Lordship of the one true God.
The Ninevites are also commended for their faith God, the city Jonah wanted God to destroy. They did not impose conditions on God in order for them to serve him, but rather, they repented and turned to God in faith and listened to him. Instead of imposing your expectations on God, seek to live under His expectations of you.
Something greater than Solomon/Jonah is here! The queen listened to Solomon. The people listened to Jonah. How much more awesome is Jesus Christ, the one sent from God. There is only one way for the people of our restless world to find hope and satisfaction, only one way to be blessed. Today many people follow innumerable spiritual paths, but they will not accept Jesus on His terms. They expect Jesus to conform to them. They water down the truth of Jesus declaring he is less than divine because their expectations of what a loving God looks like are not being met.
Let the Lord Jesus Christ be the Lord Jesus Christ. He rose from the dead. He is alive. Listen to Him. Obey Him. Conform your life to His will.
What do you expect of God? Even in asking the question perhaps a list starts to form of what you want to see happen in this old world. A list in your personal life of every wrong that you would like to see right. The fundamental problem is that it is the wrong question. Turn it around. Add the tiny little two letter word into the sentence:
What do you expect of me, God? The resurrected Jesus Christ blesses those who listen to Him and seek to do His will. Amen.