Palm Sunday Musings: Examining Expectations


This past Sunday was Palm Sunday. It is the day that commemorates when Jesus road into Jerusalem on an un-ridden colt. People placed their coats and palm fronds in front of the coat as he entered Jerusalem proclaiming “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!” “Hosanna in the highest!” Many of these same people, later in the week to come would scream “Crucify Him!” So the question is what changed from shouts asking for salvation to shouts demanding death. The answer comes in that Jesus did not meet their request in accordance with expectations. The people were looking for Jesus to come and remove their political suffering and oppression at the hands of the Roman Empire. They were looking for immediate results. Jesus did not meet those expectations. The failed expectations led to increased anger and hostility. Jesus death was called for because while he came to save, he did not come as a political savior, rather he came as a servant and sacrifice. Today, we still have many faulty expectations as to how God will work in our lives. We want God to meet us on our terms and in our way. If we have pain, we want immediate relief. We want God to give us advantages at the expense of others. We in general often approach God from our perspective and do not take time to consider what God’s perspective may be. Personally, there have been times of great anger toward God, because God allowed or didn’t intervene in what were harmful choices by others. Others have gotten angry at God for allowing a young person to die. Basically, what we ask of God and what we expect revolves around what we consider to be good for us. We can even make our own plans and ideas and then give them to God and ask God to bless them. It is our own wants, desires, and expectations that often distort our view of how God is operating in our life and in the world. So ultimately, each of us, while crying for God’s salvation, can easily turn and shout for his death, if God fails to meet our expectation. Each of us needs to engage in self-examination and ask God to reveal areas in our life we are holding to faulty expectations based on our own wants and desires. We need God to bring our will, thoughts, and heart toward His perspective rather than our own. We need to daily walk in trust and faith, even when times are most difficult. The reason being is ultimately God is in control and works all things together for His glory which is always good, even if sometimes very painful.

If you consider this line of thought even further, it is failed expectations and thoughts about relief from assorted types of suffering that pose a barrier to people accepting God’s gift of salvation.  The focus is often on why there is not immediate suffering relief and that the greatest evil is the ongoing prevalence of suffering. The question is that of “what does God allow pain and suffering and still be loving?”   It was such a mindset that led folks from cries of Hosanna to cries of crucify Him. In other words we attempt to define what God should do by our own concepts of justice, goodness, peace, and love.  All of our own concepts are faulty and what God has in mind and in store is far greater.  All that is needed is turning the self over to God and letting God truly save us in accordance with His will and His plan, not ours.

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One Response

  1. Why does God allow suffering? Probably the most oft-asked question of believers and nonbelievers alike as it pertains to seeking to understand God. Rabbi Kushner’s premise of his book, “Why Bad Things Happen to Good People” was this: either God is bad, or he is good but not all-powerful; therefore, he says, he chooses to believe the latter: God is good, but unfortunately not able to prevent these bad things from happening. Rabbi Kushner is a heretic–even to the Jewish faith, let alone Christianity. Thankfully, Jerry Bridges wrote a beautifully Bible-backed refutation of this work, called Trusting God. Unfortunately (but not surprisingly), it is virtually unknown outside evangelical circles, let alone among the nonreligious; while Kushner’s work was a bestseller…

    Jay Adams wrote a wonderfully readable and hugely applicable little book called “How to Handle Trouble.” It is entirely biblically based, and it applies to any and every bad situation one might ever find herself or himself in. The chapters go like this: (1) God is in the trouble; (2) God is up to something; (3) God is up to something good… For tests, trials, and turmoil are the backdrops that God uses in order to mold us, if we will respond correctly, ever more closely into the image of Christ. When we are sinned against, or when we face difficulty, we are called to respond without sinning. A tall order, to be sure, but God never commands us to do anything that we cannot do.

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