|Volume 22 Number 6 June 2020||
David R. Kenney
Sometimes our expectations are not met, which can be discouraging. When we examine what has happened, it may be that our expectations were off. Take for example what Jesus said of John the Baptist.
What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed those who are gorgeously appareled and live in luxury are in kings’ courts. But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written: “Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You.” For I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he. (Luke 7:24-28 NKJV)
John was none of the things that people might have expected.
John was a unique individual with a unique role. He was considered the greatest among the prophets, but he was lesser than the least in the kingdom. How could this be? The prophets’ messages included a forward-looking view to the coming of the Messiah, but John was the appointed harbinger of the Messiah’s arrival (Matthew 3:1-4). Since John died before the Messiah’s kingdom was established, he was not in the kingdom. So, the reference to “least” and “greatest” was one of chronology. Jesus certainly gave John high praise!
An interesting observation about both Jesus and John is that neither of them appeared to be the kind of messiah or herald the people were anticipating. This did not keep Jesus and John from fulfilling their missions, even though people’s expectations were not realized.
Could it be that our expectations are the issue rather than some other solution to meet our expectations? The fact is that many of the preachers of the New Testament would not be welcomed in our pulpits today because they do not fit the profile of what we sometimes expect a preacher ought to be. The apostle Paul is nearly the exact opposite of what I read in the preacher-search ads—he was unmarried and imprisoned!
For Our Eternal Good
“All things work together for good,” the text says. Yet, how do shut doors in my face, hunger pangs that won’t go away and fear of debilitating or deadly disease help me? The answer is in Hebrews 12:9-11.
Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Did you get it? God uses troublesome times as discipline to train us (Romans 5:1-5) so that we might be partakers of His holiness. That’s Heaven, people! God is putting us through our paces to get us ready for glory! Now, God wants us to enjoy life here, for sure (1 Timothy 4:8; 6:17), but ultimately, the good He has in mind for us is Heaven itself. God is determined that we do not miss it (2 Peter 3:9). He will do for us and to us whatever it takes for us to learn how to get there, if we will cooperate (Ephesians 1:11-12). This helps us see things differently, doesn’t it (James 1:2-4)?