I know I’ve been on this theme for a couple of weeks now, but I can’t help it. It just seems that God doesn’t live up to our expectations. It’s so maddening. It’s not too much to ask is it – that God would simply act the way we want? The way a “good” God should act. Surprisingly, John the Baptist struggled with this very same issue. Here is the story.
The disciples of John reported to him about all these things. Summoning two of his disciples, John sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?” When the men came to Him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to You, to ask, `Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?’ ”
At that very time He cured many people of diseases and afflictions and evil spirits; and He gave sight to many who were blind. And He answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have the gospel preached to them. “Blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.”
This is fascinating. Why did John ask this question, “Are you the Expected One?” John had baptized Jesus. He had heard God’s voice. He had seen the Holy Spirit descend on Him. John himself had called Jesus the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. John knew very well who Jesus was. So why the question?
I think that John had certain expectations that Jesus did not seem to live up to. Was John expecting Jesus to declare Himself Messiah at that time? Was John tired of waiting? Perhaps he was thinking to himself, “Did I get this wrong?” Was John doubting Jesus or himself? Was he disappointed by Jesus? Not long after this John was imprisoned and then killed. I wonder what John would have thought if he had lived to see Jesus crucified. “That is not the way it was supposed to be!”
If we are honest with ourselves, we ask the same kind of question John did? “Jesus are you really the One or should I look for another way?” The real, underlying question is more heartbreaking. “Jesus, why aren’t you doing for me what I need?” “Why isn’t my life going like I expected?” “Why aren’t you coming through for me?” “Why aren’t you living up to my expectations?” Real questions that we all face at some point in our life.
Jesus doesn’t answer John’s questions directly, instead He points to what has been going on around Him. Jesus points out individual lives that have been changed by His presence. He points out God’s power poured out in mercy and healing, restoring hope. Jesus reminds John that His mission was to reclaim lives, not claim a crown.
When Jesus shows up, lives are changed. What was lost – seeing, hearing, walking, speaking – was restored. What was broken –hope, joy – was renewed. And what was dead was revived. For Jesus, being Messiah was not about political or military success, it was about personal restoration. It was about rescuing us from our helplessness and giving us real, God-infused LIFE.
Who of us doesn’t need restoration, renewal or revival in some area of our lives? The challenge is to look beyond our expectations of what God should do and see what He has done. When we see past the doubts, disappointment or discouragement, we see Jesus as He truly is – loving, merciful, present, active and transformational in our lives. The answer to John’s question, “Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?” is simple. There is no one else. And when we take an honest look around us and see what He has actually done, we will realize that He has gone way beyond our expectations.