2019-12-15 – Year A – Advent 3 (Learning Tree Sunday)- The Rev. Christopher M. Klukas
Isaiah 35:1-10; Psalm 146; James 5:7-20; Matthew 11:2-19

  • In business, it is important to underpromise and overdeliver. Sometimes this is referred to as “managing expectations.” Photography freelance work.
    • It is important to be mindful of expectations in all of our relationships, whether business or personal. Especially in marriage.
    • Unspoken expectations lead to lots of conflict and resentment.
  • In the Gospel passage today, John the Baptist is in prison for speaking truth to power.
  • John’s role, as we talked about last week, was to prepare the way for the Lord.
    • The Messiah was coming, the time was imminent.
    • John was sure that Jesus was the Messiah, he knew it even while he was still in his mother’s womb, and this truth was confirmed at Jesus’ Baptism.
    • But now John was not so sure. His expectations were not lining up with what he was seeing.

Unmet Expectations

  • John had heard about the “deeds of the Christ” and this seems to be the source of his question. What is meant by these “deeds”?
    • It would have probably been the whole of Jesus’ ministry, his teaching and preaching, his interactions with the various parties of the day, and his miracles.
  • What might John’s expectations have been?
    • John’s ministry was all about repentance. “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2).
      • It seems that he was expecting the Messiah to elevate the status of the righteous and punish the wicked. Matthew 3:12 – The winnowing fork.
    • John may have expected that if he was the forerunner to Jesus, he should have ended up in a better place than in prison.
  • What did the people expect from Jesus?
    • Most people, even the 12 Apostles who were closest to Jesus, expected the Messiah to be a kingly figure who would lead Isreal to a victory against the Romans and reestablish sovereign rule.
    • Luke 24:19-21 – Cleopas on the road to Emmaus.
    • Matthew 11:16-17 – Children in the marketplace
      • The children call to their playmates but their playmates don’t come.
      • The people were putting their expectations on both John the Baptist and Jesus and they were perplexed when their expectations went unfulfilled.
      • Matthew 11:18-19
  • What do you expect from God?

Assurance that Jesus is the One

  • In response to John’s question, Jesus shows how he is doing exactly what was prophesied.
    • Matthew 11:4-5
    • When we look at the prophecy we read from Isaiah, we can see that Jesus is doing exactly what was prophesied. Isaiah 35:5-6.
      • This is only one example of a huge number of prophecies about the Messiah that are fulfilled by Jesus.

Blessed is the One who is Not Offended by Me

  • Matthew 11:6 – “Blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
  • The Gospel can be offensive. We see this all the time.
    • But the word Gospel means “good news”. How can good news be offensive?
    • Good news is offensive because it also implies that there is bad news.
  • The Bad news – we are all sinners.
    • We all, deep down, desire to decide what is right and wrong for ourselves.
    • This puts ourselves in the place of God.
    • This can also cause improper expectations of our relationship with God.
    • We think we know what is best for us, and we are perplexed when we don’t get whatever it is that we want.
  • The Good news is that Jesus came to save us from ourselves.
    • Our sin separates us from God.
    • Jesus came to restore our broken relationships with the God. He sacrificed himself on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin so that we don’t have to.
    • More than that, Jesus offers us abundant life.
    • He has a plan for our lives that is far better than anything we could come up with on our own.
      • He doesn’t promise that his plan will be without suffering.
      • He doesn’t promise that his plan will always be smooth sailing.
      • But he does promise peace and joy.
      • There is a deep and abiding satisfaction in knowing that I am in exactly the place where God wants me to be and that I have a place and purpose in his plan.
    • Cooking up our own expectations for God (and others) is a plan for disappointment.
    • Resting in God’s promises is a plan filled with hope, peace, and joy.
  • Isaiah 35:10 – “And the ransomed of the Lord shall return…”

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