There is a story in Luke chapter 4 where Jesus is teaching in the synagogue in Nazareth, his hometown. The Jews and religious leaders hearing him speak marveled by what he was teaching at first, but things changed very quickly.
The crowd that had gathered soon no longer wanted to hear what he had to say, they instead wanted to kill him right then and there. They considered his teaching to be blasphemy. They could not look past what they “knew” of him, that he was the son of Joseph, a carpenter, to see who he really was, the Messiah.
Every year when I teach this story in my 8th grade Bible class, I find myself stopping to think how many times I’ve acted like Jesus’ hometown crowd. How many times have I been frustrated with Jesus because I couldn’t see past what I wanted him to be? Many who followed Jesus throughout his ministry could never look past their expectations of what the Messiah was to be. They missed out on the very thing they had been waiting hundreds of years for.
It’s always been a great reminder for me to put my expectations of Jesus in check to make sure they line up with his word. When they don’t line up, I know that’s when my own desires have been made a priority over his. He, of course, is not some genie that grants wishes to improve my life. I know I can expect him to love me regardless of my mistakes, to forgive me no matter how many times I mess up, to hold me whenever I need comfort, or just to listen when I need a friend. When all is said and done and I’m really honest with myself, these are the things I really want from him anyway. I pray that we never let our false expectations of him get in the way of experiencing him as he really is: an all-loving, ever-present, comforting, personal God.
Middle School teacher
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