Extend the Joy of Christmas

What Did You Expect?

When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” Matthew 11:2-3

Did Christmas disappoint you? Did your loved ones neglect to give you the present you wanted? Did squabbling siblings get you down? Did snow interfere with your holiday celebrations?

Jesus’s earthly ministry disappointed many people. He came to set the captives free, and yet John the Baptist wasn’t just imprisoned, he was beheaded (Matthew 14:10). The Pharisees expected the Messiah to honor them and to fulfill the Law as they understood it. But Jesus condemned their hypocrisy, their greed, and their misinterpretation of the Law (Matthew 23:13-29).

The people escorted Jesus into Jerusalem with the equivalent of a ticker-tape parade because they expected him to save them from their oppressors and reign as David’s heir. They didn’t realize that he came as the Servant of the Lord to die for the sins of his people. He rode a donkey, a sign that he came in peace, rather than a war horse, which a conqueror would have ridden.

Jesus’s disciples were disappointed when he didn’t show any political ambition. Although he told them several times that he was going to Jerusalem to die, the disciples didn’t understand what he meant. Even on the night before his death, the disciples disputed which of them was considered to be greatest, confident that Jesus was about to become king (Luke 22:24).

Sometimes we’re disappointed with Jesus. He doesn’t seem to be the Savior we expected. Our problem is that we don’t see the whole picture. The Bible reveals two comings of Jesus, the Messiah. We live between those two advents. Jesus fulfilled many of the Old Testament promises in his first coming, but many more will be fulfilled when he comes again.

He will not come as a humble servant the next time. He will come as King of Kings riding on a white horse as conqueror, making war on his enemies, including sin and death (Revelation 19:11 and 21:4). We will not be disappointed!

Charles Wesley’s hymn, “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus,” anticipates this second coming:

Come, Thou long-expected Jesus,
Born to set Thy people free
From our fears and sin release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.

Wesley’s second verse includes the line, “Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.” May that be our prayer too as we wait for Jesus to return.

DIG DEEPER:

Read Luke 1:26-38. What else did the angel tell Mary besides the name she was to give her child?

What was the repeated promise in these Old Testament prophecies: Isaiah 40:2; 53:6; Jeremiah 31:31–34; Ezekiel 36:25–27; Daniel 9:24; Zechariah 13:1?

Read Exodus 19:12-25 and Hebrews 12:18-24. Why do you think the coming of God to meet his people at Mt. Sinai was so different from the coming of Jesus at Bethlehem?

Nancy J. Baker

This devotion is taken from Restore the Joy: Daily Devotions for December, available at amazon.com

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