What Were You Expecting?

This is the text of my message at the Arusha Vineyard on Dec 19th, 2010 as part of the Christmas family service which featured an incredible time of singing with the Sowers Group. The message was entitled, “What Were You Expecting”. It has also been reposted on the Pamoja Ministries site at http://pamojaministries.or.tz/key-articles/life/what-were-you-expecting:Joseph was a devout Jew, eagerly awaiting the coming of Emmanuel, the Messiah. Then Emmanuel came. Matthew recorded it this way in his gospel:

“The Birth of Jesus took place like this. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. Before they came to the marriage bed, Joseph discovered she was pregant.” (Matt 1:18 The Message)

Joseph, is this what you were expecting?

Mark’s gospel begins with John the Baptist, a rugged wilderness man as much spectacle as message to the people of Israel, who was announcing the coming of Messiah. Luke’s gospel records that John sent his disciples to see if Jesus was the One – this was after John had baptised Jesus. Jesus, upon the disciples’ arrival, immediately healed, “many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind.” (Luke 7:21 NIV)

Then he (Jesus) turns to them (John’s disciples) and asks, “Is this what you were expecting? Then count yourselves fortunate!” (Luke 7:23 The Message)

Another version says, “You’re blessed if you don’t fall away on account of me.” (NIV) which essentially means, “don’t be offended if I’m not what you were expecting.”

John’s gospel begins with the amazing story of the Word become flesh. John writes, “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him the world did not recognize him.” (John 1:10 The Message)

He wasn’t what they were expecting. We here this from other voices as well:

“How can this be?”, asks Nicodemus. (John 3:9 NIV)

“What miracle will you give us so we can see it and believe you?”, the crowd asks. (John 6:30 NIV)

“Who is this Son of Man, sir? Tell me so I may believe in him.”, asks a man who has just been touched and healed by the Son of God. (John 9:36 NIV)

What were you expecting this year? And how did you react when you encountered Christ as he was in your situation? We are often blind, thiking we have sight. We’ve convinced each other of so much about things that we don’t understand. So much, that when we are confronted by Truth – by God Incarnate – we stumble.

Yet this is the message of Christmas. Emmanuel, God with us, whether we recognize him or not.

Throughout the year, we look at Christ Jesus in many different ways: as servant, as God, as King, as Master, as Conqueror, as Lover. At Christmas time we see him as a baby. But I charge you today – don’t assume that you know how he’ll appear when you see him in your situation. He is Emmanuel, God with us. He is with you.

Will you, as Martha did by her brother Lazarus’ grave before the miracle, say, “I believe you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.”? (John 11:27 NIV)

Or will you, like the Jews, “still not believe him”, “even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs”? (John 12:37 NIV)

Will you, like Mary at the grave site, think that he is the gardener as you stare at his face though you are close family of his? (John 20:15)

Will you, like Thomas, call him master and God when you see him? Or will you be those, “who have not seen and yet believe”? (John 20:28-29 NIV)

He is with you – Emmanuel – and my prayer is that you would see him clearly as he is; and worship him.