Jesus disappointed everyone’s expectations. It seems like an odd thing to say about the Savior of the world, but a quick look through the Gospels reveals the truth of the statement.
John the Baptist expected Jesus to come and judge the wicked. So much so that when Jesus continually performed acts of mercy instead of judgement, John sent his messengers to ask Him, “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we wait for someone else?” John, who recognized Jesus from the womb, questioned the works of his Savior because they didn’t meet his expectations.
The disciples were certain—up until the day Jesus died on the cross—that He came to save them from Rome. They knew the prophecies about the Messiah and believed He would be a strong, earthly king who would form a Jewish kingdom. Even after He rose from the grave, they asked Him, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” His death, burial, and even resurrection didn’t meet their expectations.
The Pharisees expected Jesus to enforce the Mosaic law and commend them for their religious lifestyles. Instead, He claimed their virtue was only a pretense and knocked them off the pedestal of moral standards. The very thought that the Messiah would not enforce the law, but instead fulfill it—offering a way to live under freedom instead of legalism and undermining their authority in the process—didn’t just disappoint their expectations; it violated them. Which is why they ultimately called for His arrest and death.
The only expectations Jesus met were the expectations of His Father. Because God’s plan is always abundantly more than we can ask or imagine.
When you think of God’s people—all the way back to Genesis—you see how frequently they bounce in and out of freedom. God loved His children and created a perfect place for them to live forever, only for them to fall into sin. He protected them from instant death and established their lineage, only for them to give in to wickedness. He rescued them from their wickedness and a worldwide flood, only for them to submit to false gods. He saved them from their false gods, only for them to fall under slavery in Egypt. He parted the Red Sea and liberated them from Egypt, only for them to get stuck in the wilderness. He delivered them from the wilderness into the Promised Land, only for them to get exiled to Babylon. He freed them from Babylon, only for them to get crushed by Rome.
My husband and I like to joke that God is like Mr. Incredible in The Incredibles, when he says, “No matter how many times you save the world, it always manages to get back into jeopardy. Sometimes I just want them to stay saved, you know?”
And that is why God sent Jesus.
Not to enact judgement, or defeat Rome, or enforce the law.
But so His people could stay saved.
John the Baptist, the disciples, and the Pharisees each had their own ideas about how He was going to save them, but sometimes God has to disappoint our expectations in order to exceed them. Because Jesus didn’t come for another temporary saving—He came to conquer Hell.
The King of Kings came down from Heaven to bring good news to the poor, heal the broken-hearted, declare freedom for the captives, recover sight to the blind, and deliver the oppressed. He came to pay the penalty for the sins of the entire world, once and for all. He came to conquer the grave, restore abundant life, and offer eternal salvation to His people. He came to secure the end of the Greatest Love Story ever written.