Raising Expectations by Christopher Harbin

Raising Expectations
Christopher B. Harbin
Jeremiah 31:1-6; John 20:1-18; Colossians 3:1-4

I saw what you did with that cross today. When I came in, it was draped in black, but now I see it adorned with flowers. I guess that is a significant tribute to what the cross has meant in my life. You see, I was one of Jesus' followers. We never expected to find Jesus nailed to an instrument of such dread cruelty, but then, Jesus was always surprising us. He was always raising our expectations to a new plane. That weekend when Jesus hung on the cross was the darkest hour in our lives--black like the trappings on your own cross here. Afterward, however, what had been black and disgusting became beautiful--full of new expectations and hope.
It was always hard to keep up with Jesus. Whenever we came to a point of understanding something, it seemed Jesus introduced a new idea to shatter what we thought we knew. We had grown up with certain concepts and expectations about God. Jesus did not think nearly as much of our ideas as we did. When John announced Jesus as the Messiah, we were thrilled! We knew about Messiah and were eager for a new political reality in Israel. Jesus began talking about God's messianic reign, but somehow it was not at all what we anticipated. He called us beyond our expectations to adopt God's expectations in place of our own.
Maybe you know what I am talking about. Have you ever had that experience of certainty about some divine truth and seen Jesus completely shatter your understanding? It can be rather unsettling. It can also be the beginning of a new relationship with the God of infinite wonder.
Jesus had that kind of effect on people. Either they were excited by the thrill of the ride, or they were too afraid to listen any further at what he had to say. His words were either wonderful release or a threat to all one held dear. You'd think that after three years we would have become accustomed to surprises. That would serio ...


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