For many sports fans the start of a new season is the reward for surviving a long layoff. During the offseason teams have signed players, made trades and integrated draft picks into how their new organization runs including everything from its on-field philosophy to its off-field marketing. During this time the so-called experts begin to weigh in with their views on how the season will play out and, unsurprisingly, this can lead to some very high, almost unrealistic, expectations as to how the upcoming schedule will play out. When things don’t turn out the way that the fans thought they would or should they begin to, usually unfairly, question the transactions that were made in the months that led up to the start of the season. I confess that I’ve been that fan but I’ve also realized that my expectations of the team’s performance don’t guarantee success because that’s outside of my control.
I don’t know for sure but I imagine the Jews felt the same way around the time that Christ was born. God had been silent for 400 years. They had continued to wait for and long for, even pray for, the freedom that the Messiah would bring but the timing wasn’t up to them. Rabbis spent years closely studying the scriptures looking for any hint as to when he would arrive and inaugurate his kingdom but they could find no indicators. They expected a political revolutionary who would throw out the Romans and restore the people of Israel to their rightful autonomy. It was going to be glorious. What they got instead was a baby in a manger. A baby that was born to die on a criminal’s cross.
“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him.” – Deuteronomy 18:15 (HCSB)
“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” –
Isaiah 7:14 (NKJV)
“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel, whose origins are in the distant past, will come from you on my behalf.” – Micah 5:2 (NLT)
“Cry out with joy, O daughter of Zion! Shout jubilantly, O daughter of Jerusalem! Look—your King is coming; He is righteous and able to save. He comes seated humbly on a donkey, on a colt, a foal of a donkey.” – Zechariah 9:9 (The Voice)
“Nathaniel asked him, ‘From Nazareth? Can anything good come from there?’ Philip told him, ‘Come and see!'” – John 1:46 (ISV)
“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” – John 3:14-15 (ESV)
Brene Brown said that “disappointment is unmet expectations, and the more significant the expectations, the more significant the disappointment”. When Jesus was crucified the disciples experienced probably the greatest disappointment of all. For 3 years they heard him promise salvation only to have everything end with a trial and execution but praise God it didn’t end there. They had been given freedom, just not the kind that they anticipated. Their king, and ours, has come and he did exactly what he said he would do.