When John heard in prison what the Messiah was dong, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” (Matthew 11:2-3 CEB)
What John was really asking was, “So, Jesus, so far you haven’t amassed an army, overthrown the Roman occupation, set up your kingdom to rule over Israel. You just don’t fit my – our – expectations of the Messiah, King of Israel! Just sayin’.”
The prophecies of the one who is to come – the Messiah who would save the people – were based on a different part of scripture. Since the Messiah was to be from the line of David, the assumption was that he would be a great warrior king like David, conquer Rome and restore Israel to its own nation and to power in their region.
Jesus was not fitting that expectation. When have our expectations of others left us disappointed and wondering? I have an expectation (probably unreasonable, but who knows) that when I e-mail a friend or someone in the congregation asking a question or looking for help, I’ll get a response. When nothing comes, I’m let down, disappointed, frustrated, and feeling like they just don’t care enough to answer back.
But then, I’ve been like that all my life. As a child, I had several pen pals, and it was great for a while, but then eventually, it would fall off, and I stopped trying. John’s concerns and expectations were far greater than my example, but his wonder over whether or not Jesus was “the One” was very easy to understand.
Yet, Jesus answers from the scriptures – just a different part of the scriptures in Isaiah: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. (v. 4). Jesus was the ONE! Just because he didn’t meet John’s expectations, doesn’t mean he didn’t meet God’s!
How often do we place great expectations on God and find disappointment? Maybe we can turn it around and ask how we are meeting God’s expectations of us. Have we let God down? How have we met God’s expectations? Where is God leading us to minister in our world in the ways of Jesus?