“Dear Jesus, if you’re real, then can you turn off my bedroom light?”
This was a common prayer I recited as a child. Was it out of lack of faith or my lazy desire to stay in bed? Either way I wanted a sign. I wanted magic Jesus to do what I wanted. I day dreamed about how awesome that would be if he actually turned my light off for me every night. I remember day dreaming that Jesus would answer my prayer to make the spinach I was about to eat taste like ice cream. I thought that if Jesus did cool things like this, then I would really REALLY trust him.
We find the same story in the Gospel of Luke on the road to Emmaus. Two men are telling a stranger (It was Jesus, but they didn’t recognize him at the time.) about what had recently happened to Jesus.
“…He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place.”
But we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.
We can all identify with verse 21. As sinful Christ followers, we have all complained one time or another that “we had hoped he was the one who ____.” I’m sure you can easily fill in the blank. As a child sitting in bed I could have sighed and said “I had hoped he was the one who would turn off my bedroom light.”
We carry a chip on our shoulder, because Jesus isn’t really who we thought he was. In fact, he might even be disappointing to you. We expect Jesus to jump inside the box we have created and explain everything he does or doesn’t do. The Jewish people wanted Jesus to be their earthly king, but Jesus had much bigger plans. I wanted Jesus to turn my spinach into ice cream, but he wanted to me to be thankful for the food he had given me…and probably the ice cream I would have for dessert.
Jesus answers these men, by rebuking them.
25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken!26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
Jesus doesn’t provide them with a fresh revelation or a new piece of the puzzle. He shows them what they already know. God revealed himself and his character through His word. God revealed Jesus, and fulfilled all prophecies concerning him, yet we are very confused. We don’t understand Jesus, and we are shocked when he does what he says he will do….because we were really hoping that he would do something else.
Jesus’s explanation doesn’t really help them to understand though. They are interested in the amazing things he is saying, but they still don’t get it. They are still depressed and confused by what they saw at Jesus’s crucifixion. It wasn’t until dinner, when they saw Jesus disappear, that it clicked. Were they stupid? Are we that stupid?
Further into the chapter, the mystery of their misunderstanding is revealed. Jesus goes to visit the disciples and they are just as confused and disappointed as the Emmaus travelers. Everything changes after Jesus does one simple thing.
45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.
Abracadabra! It wasn’t because they were really smart. It wasn’t because they had some extra faith. Jesus opened their minds so that they could understand scriptures. If our perspectives are not first altered, Jesus is just straight up confusing. We cannot understand or know what to expect, without him revealing it to us.
So maybe today, instead of asking Jesus to do something new, I should ask him for the ability to understand what he already did.
When it comes to the past, I have two choices in how to respond.
- I had hoped that he was the one who was going to _____.
- I pray he opens my mind so I can understand what he has already done.
Honestly, there are still days when I feel disappointed in Jesus. It’s always a sure sign that I was seeking my own glory and trying to put Jesus in a box. When I seek his glory and read his word, my mind is opened to how big he really is. His plan is much bigger. His plan is much better.
8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.