Not As Advertised.
Matthew 16:21-26; Mark 8:31-37; Luke 9:22-25
“‘Heaven forbid, Lord,’ he said. ‘This will never happen to you!’” – Matthew 16:22 NLT
We all had expectations of Jesus when we accepted Him as our Savior. Some of us had been promised a certain list of attractive options if we would just place our faith in Him. It may have been a well-meaning or a fervent pastor who told us that salvation in Christ would bring us a happier marriage, an improved life, increased joy, and an assortment of other favorable benefits. But then when we came to Christ, we found that our life actually got a bit harder. Living the Christian life proved to be far more difficult and demanding than we expected. We still found our lives plagued by illness, heartache, financial setbacks, relational meltdowns and the ever-present reality of sin in our lives. As a result, some of us became disillusioned and disheartened. This was NOT what we had signed up for. It may have even felt like a bait and switch.
I think the disciples felt the same way. When they made the decision to follow Jesus, they were under the impression that He was the long-awaited Messiah, and as good Jews, they had certain expectations and understandings of what the Messiah would do when He showed up on the scene. They had been raised on images of the conquering hero, the great emancipator, the powerful political leader, and a king over Israel, much like David had been. By this time in His ministry, Jesus had already begun to mess with their preconceived ideas of what the Messiah was going to do when He showed up. Jesus appeared as a peasant. He had no royal retinue or powerful army to back Him up. He had no wealth. He wielded no political influence. Even the religious leaders of the day refused to accept Him as the Messiah. So when Jesus starts dropping hints that He is going to Jerusalem, where He will suffer at the hands of the elders of Israel and be tried and killed, they are blown away. This was NOT what they were expecting. In their grand scheme of things, the Messiah was supposed to be a conquering king, not a suffering saint. He was to reign and rule from a throne in Jerusalem, not die on a cross. Jesus’ announcement was a total disconnect for these men. And Peter refused to accept it. “Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things” (Mark 8:32 NLT). What’s fascinating is that Peter actually told Jesus, the Son of God, “Heaven forbid, Lord. This will never happen to you!” (Matthew 16:22 NLT). Because Jesus’ announcement didn’t meet Peter’s expectations, Peter rebuked Jesus and basically told Him that he would not allow any of it to happen. Peter didn’t like what he was hearing, and so he swore that he would do all that he could to prevent it from happening. This would not be the last time that Peter made such a statement. Later on, Jesus told the disciples that they would desert Him in His time of need. Jesus said that when His actual arrest took place, they would run out on Him. But Peter responded, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I will never desert you!” (Matthew 26:33 NLT). Jesus makes it clear that Peter will not only desert Him, he will deny Him. “‘No!’ Peter insisted. ‘Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!’ And all the other disciples vowed the same.” (Matthew 26:35 NLT).
And Peter would deny Him – three times. And they all would desert Him. Jesus knew what was going to happen. And He also knew that the events of which He had told them had to happen. They were part of God’s divine plan for the redemption of mankind. And for Peter to swear that he would do everything in his power to prevent it solicited a harsh rebuke from Jesus. “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.” (Matthew 26:23 NLT). Peter was letting his expectations of the Messiah to stand in the way of God’s plan for the Messiah. He was stuck on his own agenda, not God’s, and that made him an enemy of God. That’s a sobering thought. When we disagree with Jesus’ plans for our lives or attempt to demand that He meet our expectations, we are placing ourselves in direct opposition to Him and to God the Father. The disciples had no need for a suffering servant Messiah. What good was a crushed Christ or a dead savior to them? They had an agenda for Jesus and they weren’t really interested in God’s agenda for Jesus or themselves. That’s a dangerous place to be.
So what about you? Have your expectations of Jesus been met? Has He been the Savior you were looking for or do you find yourself a bit disappointed in how this whole Christian “thing” has turned out?
Were you expecting happiness and not holiness?
Where you hoping for prosperity, but got financial difficulty instead?
Were you looking for a trouble-free life, but find yourself with trials and setbacks?
Have you been waiting for your place of honor, only to be mired in obscurity?
Has Jesus turned out to be who you were looking for?
Has He disappointed you, let you down, or failed to measure up?
Maybe you’ve been looking for the wrong thing. Maybe your expectations of Him were wrong. Why not recognize that God’s agenda for Jesus is different than yours? Place your trust in His plan. Let you go of your will, and rest in His perfect will instead.
Father, You had a plan for Jesus that did not fit that of the disciples. But it had to happen according to Your terms. Jesus had to die. If not, we would not have eternal life. He had to suffer on our behalf. And while Jesus did not bring the kind of kingdom the disciples were looking for, what they received from Him was far greater than anything they could have expected. And the same is true for us today. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men