This is something of a theme for the crowds that follow Jesus. (Mark 8:11, Matthew 12:38) Time and time again in the Gospel we read about the crowds or the Pharisees, “demanding a sign from heaven”. It’s like they’re saying to Jesus, “if you could just give us a clear sign, an obvious miracle, then we could believe that you are the Son of God.”
I find it almost humorous in this particular passage, because the crowds are asking for a sign directly after Jesus has caused a mute man to speak right before their eyes. I mean, is that not miraculous enough? What more are you looking for? In fact, Jesus performs some pretty incredible miracles all throughout his ministry. Water into wine, the feeding of the five thousand, Holy Spirit as a dove. Not to mention raising not only himself, but also Lazarus from the dead. How much more of a miracle are we looking for here?
There’s just one problem. These miracles, while miraculous, were not the miracles these people were looking for. The culture in Jesus’ day had a very specific expectation of what the Son of God would look and act like. At this time in history, God’s people are once again, under the tyranny of a harsh regime, the Hold Roman Empire. Now in the past, when God’s people had been in this sort of situation, God had sent a mighty warrior like Joshua or David with a big sword to fight battles and overtake the enemy. Or he had sent someone who would perform miraculous signs, like Moses and the ten plagues. Jesus, a carpenter turned Rabbi who hangs out with fisherman and tax collectors, did not exactly fulfill those expectations. And I can’t help but wonder if the people in Jesus day were so obsessed with their expectation of the way God should look, that they were blinded from seeing the Savior of the world right in front of them, and they missed him.
That crowd in Luke 11 is so caught up in their expectation of what a miracle from God should look like, that they missed the miraculous healing that had been performed right in from of their eyes.
I’m glad we live in a culture that is nothing like that. That would be terrible. Could you imagine?
Our culture has many expectations for how God is “supposed” to work. We subscribe to the idea of Karma, that if I do good, then good things will happen to me, and if I do bad, then bad things will happen. We view a relationship with God and the church as a consumer relationship, the more I give, the more I will be blessed. We view being a “good person” as synonymous with “being a Christian”.
If these are the expectations we place on God, it’s no wonder most of us are disappointed by him and doubt his existence and sovereignty, because to fulfill those expectations would be outside of his character. The truth is that a relationship with God is a covenant relationship, based on a promise, and the acceptance of the gift of free grace, given and earned by the blood of Jesus on the cross. His sacrifice has set us free from our sinful nature and is calling us into a new, more fully lived life. If we are looking for God to act in any other way then that, not only will we be sorely disappointed, but we may also miss the glorious miracles and blessings that are taking place all around us, everyday. We cannot allow our expectations of how God should work to blind us from seeing the beauty the he is orchestrating in and throughout our lives.
The unsearchable depths of his loving heart is the place where expectation goes to die, and a new word, a new day, a new life is born.