BY JORDAN MAYER
"Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, 'Who do people say that the Son of Man is?' And they said, 'Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.' He said to them, 'But who do you say I am?' Simon Peter replied, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' And Jesus answered him. 'Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.'"
One of the activities I enjoy doing with my brothers is going to the movies. Particularly for the big blockbusters, there is much excitement and suspense waiting for that first movie trailer to drop. As the screen fades to color, you get the first sights and sounds of the film. The best trailers earn themselves a rescreening, meanwhile we all begin to build expectations for the full film. Unfortunately, there are occasions where the expectation doesn't quite match up to the real thing.
I see this situation playing out in the book of Matthew. Having just wrapped up my time in the Old Testament, my Bible reading plan has landed me in the opening book of the New Testament. That mere turn of the page in my printed Bible represents around 400 years worth of history for Israel! Seemingly, after all of the encounters, signs, and prophets, God goes silent. They are left to wait for what had been foretold, prophesied, and promised. They had been given the “sneak peak” and now they await the feature film.
Then Jesus comes onto the scene. The nation of Israel has been beaten and battered, helplessly stuck in the midst of falling and rising kingdoms. Now there are rumblings of a Messiah, the nation’s Savior come to rescue His people. But the expectations don’t seem to live up to the reality.
The Pharisees had taken on strict adherence to the Law, even creating additional rules and regulations to follow and enforce as God’s “holiest” of men. At least initially, they may have wondered if this great teacher had come to reinforce their rule keeping.
We have those who see Jesus as their next military ruler. Finally the time had come for them to get out from under the Roman thumb and establish themselves as a strong, independent nation.
For others, their aspirations may not have been quite as high. Jesus was simply a great person to have around. How many people do you know who can stretch a meal like Jesus or heal all manner of illnesses? (John 6:26).
But, we also cannot discount those who faithfully waited, trusted, and rejoiced at Jesus’ arrival. We see one such example in Simeon who rejoiced to see the salvation prepared for all peoples (Luke 2:29-32).
So many groups with so many expectations for one individual.
The fact is that what we expect does not always line up with reality. Expectations are very much subjective, they change from person to person and depend on our own experiences and perceptions. That’s why it’s important to recognize that Jesus is not dependent upon our expectations, neither is He subject to them. On the contrary, it is us who are dependent and subject to Him!
Rather than announcing the advent of a strong nation, Jesus describes the kingdom of God like a mustard seed. Rather than hob-knobbing with the societal elites or reinforcing the dictates of the Pharisees, Jesus breaks bread with the so-called “undesirables”. Instead of merely teaching about Scripture, He declares His fulfillment of it. He calls the poor in spirit blessed, not the strong and proud. While the religious leaders enforced the letter of the Law, Jesus reveals the true spirit of the Law. He speaks in spiritual terms rather than mere earthly ones. He is the suffering servant, the sacrificial lamb. He is the Son of Man and the Son of God.
The fact is that Jesus is who He says He is. And it is Jesus, himself, who says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
We must allow the truth of God’s Word to inform our view of Jesus, rather than our own expectations, wants, or desires. When we seek to know Him truly, we will discover that He is far greater than we can even imagine. And ultimately, we will realize that He is exactly who we need Him to be: our Savior!