Day 16 – The Pressure of Expectations

I wondered what I would focus on this morning (more of God’s dysfunctional patriarchs?)  But it came together for me in the final verses of the Matthew passage I read today (11:1-30). Here’s what I learned:

John the Baptist sends his disciples to make sure that Jesus is the One, the Messiah. He expected the Christ to come in power and judgment, so why is John in Herod’s jail?

Jesus’ response: I’m fulfilling the Messianic prophecy to serve, healing by deed and word.

People went out into the desert, expecting to see “a man dressed in fine clothes,” a leader making way for the Messiah.

But they got John, a prophet who looked more like a hobo.

Some expected the Messiah’s Kingdom to come in force.

Yet the violent (e.g., Herod) seem to be bearing it away.

Like children, the people of “this generation” expected Jesus and John to dance to their religious tune.

But John fasted when he wasn’t supposed to.

And Jesus did not fast when he should have.

In fact, Jesus ate with sinners (see more on this point here)

People expected that the Messiah’s Kingdom would be composed of the wise and learned.

But Jesus revealed Himself to little children (and those like children).

The whole chapter is filled with expectations.

Jesus has an expectation, too, that those who see his compassionate ministry of healing will turn in repentance.  But they don’t. And often, we don’t.

Because, frankly, most of us would rather live in a world of expectations. We want to know who’s who, when to eat, how to dance. We want to know the rules so that we can follow them and receive the expected blessings. We want control. We would rather put expectations on others and ourselves than to turn in repentance to Jesus.

But it sure is a lot of pressure to live that way.

Wow. Was I struck when I read those last verses.

When we turn to Jesus, the pressure comes off!! He says (11:28-30):

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (NIV)

Jesus fulfilled the Father’s expectations of a perfect life because we couldn’t. So He doesn’t expect it from us. He takes the burden of expectations away.

There’s no negotiation for blessing with Jesus.

There’s no pressure to perform with Jesus.

There’s no expectation to fulfill with Jesus.

There’s just Jesus and me, yoked together, moving forward, as I learn and rest.

Why wouldn’t I repent and go to Him?

Readings: Genesis 31:1-32:32, Psalm 8:3-9, Proverbs 3:19-20, Matthew 11: 1-30  See About for what I’m up to with these daily posts.

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