Great Expectations

I was looking over the teacher’s guide to the Easter lesson for our Sunday School class and it got me thinking about expectations.

The lesson is from the Old Testament, which prompts some to ask why Isaiah’s prophecies about the coming of a Messiah are so important, since he delivered them 800 years before Jesus walked the Earth. Then, some people wonder why the gospels in the New Testament matter when it’s been 2,000 years since Jesus walked among mortal man.

For many of us, the first experience with expectations we have involves Christmas and Santa Claus. Something great was coming. We waited expectantly, if not patiently because we knew definitely that Dec. 25 was the day.

Time passed and seasons replaced Santa Claus. Last Wednesday was a spring teaser. Felt sooooo good. The forecast says it’s not here to stay just yet, but next Saturday – March 20 – is the DAY that spring arrives, no matter what the weather is like. So until next November or December, winter will be an ever distant memory.

I had experiences with expectations. For years after my parents divorced, until I was in my teens, I waited for Dad to come home for vacation. I knew the day and was pretty sure of the time, too, but even with the certainty of it, I couldn’t wait.

Once I was old enough to travel by myself, I looked forward to the time around Labor Day for what’s become my annual trip to Omaha that I’ve been making for the better part of 40 years. It seems like it takes forever to get here, and once it does, it’s over before I know it. But the joy of being with my Dad no matter for how long overcomes the disappointment that it can’t last longer.

What do all of these occurrences have in common? I mentioned it earlier: Expectations. Stories and experiences are passed on from generation to generation. They keep expectations alive for succeeding generations.

We know Santa’s coming this year, because he was here last year. We know spring is coming because we can feel it in the air and the calendar says so. I knew Dad was coming home because he said so. He knew I was coming to Omaha because I told him I was.

The people who heard Isaiah’s prophecy had only his word to rely on. None of them – more than 20 generations worth – ever saw Christ. But they kept passing the story along, keeping the expectation of Jesus’ coming alive. And when Jesus finally showed up, just about everyone missed it, because He wasn’t who or what they were looking for.

It’s easy to believe what we’ve seen and what we know.

Not so much for the unseen and unknown.

Jesus understood that. His disciple, Thomas, couldn’t or wouldn’t believe until he saw with his own eyes. When Jesus showed him His scars, Thomas knew, and said, “My Lord and my God.”

That’s when Jesus delivered words of assurance to soothe the fears and raise the expectations of the 80 or so generations since He was here who haven’t seen Him either.

“Because you (Thomas) have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

That’s you. That’s me.
Pass it on.

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