What Do You Expect 12-15-13

After a break of a couple weeks, I’m back to posting sermons again. This week’s sermon is shorter than normal as the Sunday School students presented their Christmas Program today.

In today’s sermon, I focus on how John the Baptist allowed his preconceived expectations for the Messiah got in the way of allowing him to recognize what the Messiah was actually up to.  You can listen to the sermon here:
http://soundcloud.com/revdalen/what-do-you-expect-12-15-13

You can read along with the sermon here.
Grace and Peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen
Every year when fall rolls around and the temperature drops for the first time, I tell myself “Don’t worry, we’ll get Indian summer. It’ll warm up again.” And it always seems to. Then sometimes, like this fall, we get an early snow like we got about a month back…and I grumble and complain, but I still expect it to melt and the temps to climb back up again.
Then at some point, typically in December in this part of the country…the temps drop again…and it snows again…and while I sit there, still expecting another shot of Indian summer, its not going to happen. We can simply look out the window today and see that winter has officially set in. And my expectations for the weather…well reality is a little bit different.
Today’s scripture lesson is a similar situation. Not to say that it’s weather related, but rather there’s a similarity of misplaced expectations.  I’ve heard it said that in Matthew’s gospel, John the Baptist got it wrong.  He’s been proclaiming the coming Messiah, preparing the way for the one to come…and now that Jesus is on the scene and his ministry is underway…John, sitting in prison…is underwhelmed…and he sends his disciples to Jesus to check it out.
Are you the one to come…or should we look for someone else? (pause) He might as well be saying. This isn’t cutting it Jesus…I expected more out of you. (pause) But once again, we see that reality…is a little bit different.
Sometimes when Jesus is faced with a question, he gives a specific answer…sometimes he’s a little more vague…and sometimes, it seems like he’s blunt and maybe a little bit confrontational. That seems to be the case today. “Go tell John what you see and hear. The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, and the good news is proclaimed.”  It almost seems like Jesus is saying “HEY! WHAT DID YOU EXPECT? THIS RIGHT HERE!!! THIS IS WHAT THE KINGDOM LOOKS LIKE! (pause) Now…what are you gonna do with it?”
What are you gonna do with it? That’s the million dollar question right there. God’s reality…Jesus’ reality…often times it doesn’t match up with our expectations does it?  But that’s precisely why Jesus came to earth…to change reality…to turn reality on its ear.
And there’s really only one thing that we can do with that isn’t there?  And that one thing, is to simply believe it. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whoever believes in him might not perish but have eternal life.
But sometimes, our expectations of what SHOULD happen, get in the way don’t they? That’s the issue that John was facing in today’s story.  Unfortunately John didn’t get to see Jesus’ ministry come to completion…but we do. We have the benefit of knowing the rest of the story…and knowing that through faith we will share in the resurrection of Jesus. And faith is simply believing that which God has promised us.
Perhaps it’s fitting that as Jesus speaks about John, building him up as the greatest of the prophets, he also says “that the least in the kingdom is greater than John.” (pause) John’s expectations got in the way of his belief that day…and that’s a trap we all fall into, particularly adults.
I think that it is very fitting that today the Sunday School students presented their Christmas program…because I think that our children provide us with a wonderful example of faith.  Because when it comes to God and Jesus, they don’t have any expectations…God loves them and they know it.
Jesus tells us that we must have faith like a child…and simply believe the promise…drop the expectations…and simply believe it. When Jesus says “This is what the kingdom looks like” and asks the question “So what are you going to do with it?” He’s reminding us, don’t question it, just believe it. Amen.

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Teri on December 15, 2013 at 8:01 pm

    I like it. Hope the kids program was great. Sorry we didn’t make it down. Love you all.

    Reply

  2. […] « What Do You Expect 12-15-13 […]

    Reply

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