Today’s blog was provoked by reading a recent piece by the Rector of Holy Rood Church Packington. It was about expectations and what happens when they are not met. So two days ago we were thinking about Palm Sunday and the journey Jesus took from Bethpage, up to Jerusalem, on the donkey.
The donkey, as we said before, was a beast of burden, not an animal of triumph or conquest, but nevertheless the people all gathered around Him for a triumphal procession. They were ecstatically cheering, singing and shouting. They had seen Jesus do the most amazing miracles and now, maybe now, was the moment when He would establish His Kingdom, throw out the Romans and bring in the rule of God to His land.
The Pharisees were not oblivious of their expectations, telling Jesus in no uncertain terms to silence the crowd. Luke 19:38,39, but even though Jesus knew that most of the crowd were probably expecting something other than what was about to happen later that week, He refused to do so. He knew that they were right in what they were shouting, He was ‘the king who comes in the name of the Lord’, but He knew He was heading for a different kind of victory and a different kind of throne.
So what happened in the minds of the people between Palm Sunday and Good Friday? Well some of them would have been very pleased that He had gone and ‘sorted out’ the people making money out of them in the Temple courtyard, Luke 19:45, but then ….nothing!! I expect they were waiting for His next move, but it didn’t come. After all the excitement and energy expended, perhaps some of them felt a bit foolish, then a bit cynical. ‘Has he got scared? What was that all about? Why isn’t he doing something?
When we are disappointed with God, it’s easy to get disillusioned, we can forget the previous good things that have happened and then we can start to become angry, even wondering ‘Have I been stupid to believe?’ I think that over those few days some of those feelings may have occurred, and not just in Judas. How else did the Jewish religious leaders turn that happy crowd into a baying mob?
For some the disappointment may have meant that they just didn’t turn up to shout for Him after His trial. For others their disappointment kept them observing, but silent. Others were just clearly bewildered and frightened, but those who’d become cynical and even angry, may be joined in and shouted along with their leaders for Jesus death. What they didn’t realise was that Jesus hadn’t let them down. He hadn’t chickened out of His calling to overthrow the enemy. Not in the least. He was in fact going to the cross to win for mankind the most magnificent triumph in the whole of eternity.
The lesson for us is simple, when we are feeling let down or disappointed by the Lord it is time to give thanks, time to remember all the good things He has done and all the promises He has kept. It’s also time to thank God that He said ‘For my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts’ Isaiah 55:9-12. That passage goes on to talk of God’s faithfulness to His word, that it will accomplish what He desires, and it ends with the promise, ‘You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace’. That’s one that we like to quote! It’s good to note the context.
When Jesus refused to be made King by that Palm Sunday crowd, it was because He had a different throne to which He was going to ascend, and He had a different plan for the people. They were to have the chance to be liberated not just from the Romans but from the death and destruction of their spiritual enemy, the devil. He was going to establish an eternal Kingdom into which all would be invited. His plans were in fact much, much higher than the expectations of the crowd.
Simply put, in times of disappointment, keep thanking the Lord for His Goodness to you, that you are part of that Kingdom, and let that remind you that if something hasn’t happened the way that you think it should, it’s because He loves you and He has a better and higher plan for you.