Today’s reading takes us to a time in Jesus’ ministry when He was approached by Jewish leaders, once again questioning His abilities, His power, and ultimately His status as the Son of God. The Book of John, chapter 10, verses 22 to 42.
Jesus’ birth and presence on earth was predicted by multiple Jewish prophet’s centuries before His arrival. Some Biblical scholars believe there are over 300 prophecies of Jesus in the Old Testament. I have often wondered why Jewish leaders and people of that time did not believe Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God. They knew He was coming!
The Jewish people endured generations of pain, torture, death, slavery, and occupation by ruling parties. At the time of Jesus’ life, the Romans ruled modern-day Israel. The Jews were looking for a “king,” but, in their mind, the expectations for their “king” would have a much different purpose than what Jesus came for. Jesus came to save their souls; the Jewish people were looking for a king to “save them on earth.” They expected the “Jewish king or Messiah” would overtake their oppressors on earth and free them from bondage. Even though Jesus performed miracle after miracle, His good works would never be enough. If Jesus was the “true Messiah,” why wasn’t He freeing the Jewish people from the Roman rule and their pain on earth? The Jewish people had the wrong expectations for the prophesied Messiah.
This makes me think about our modern-day doubt and struggles with faith. I believe it is comparable to any relationship where our expectations of the other person are so high or unrealistic, that person will likely never meet them. A relationship with Jesus means we have faith that no matter what trials and tribulations we have, we believe there is a greater lesson, understanding, and good for us. We must have faith that no matter how difficult or awful the challenge, God has a plan for our life and is drawing us closer to Him. This is not easy.
Anger, resentment, frustration, and stubbornness bring about negative emotions and questions during trial periods. Why did that have to happen to me? Why did that family member have to be taken? Why did that accident occur? Why do bad things happen to good people? Trying to answer all the earthly questions we have bring about expectations of what we want to answer our questions and end our pain. This sounds eerily like the response from the Jewish people about Jesus.
Jesus came to earth not to save us from hurt and tribulation. Jesus came to earth to save our souls from eternal harm. The struggle in this life is to ensure we do not “close off” from learning what the Bible teaches us. If we have an expectation for Jesus and His impact on our lives that is not based on the lessons and teachings of Jesus in the Bible, we will always be disappointed and lack faith while we are on earth. If we think there’s no God because bad things happen, then we are setting an improper expectation that God never intended to meet. If we think there’s no God because life is uncomfortable and uncertain, then we are setting our own unrealistic expectation that will never be met. Faith is as much about the expectations we set and the benefits we expect to receive.
There are valid reasons to be afraid, upset, unsettled, and discontent with life on earth. Sometimes it seems nearly impossible to understand or make sense of pain and suffering. Earth is the “devil’s domain” (1 Peter 5:8) and will continue to be until Jesus comes again! But if we choose to follow Jesus and have faith, He will not only provide us daily peace and contentment during pain, but He will also give us everlasting life after we die. I pray that we all set the right expectations for Jesus in our hearts and minds, so that we give our faith the chance to heal us when we need it. What a great opportunity and gift for us to receive!