Friday, May 12, 2006

Jesus, You let us down!

When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, "If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace!" Luke 19:41-42a


The Greek word for "wept" is "klaio." It means "To weep, wail, lament, implying not only the shedding of tears, but also every external expression of grief" (Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary, New Testament, page 864, Strong's number 2799). Jesus was grieving, not for what He knew was coming for Him, but what He knew was coming for them. He goes on to explain their destruction.

And yet just a few verses before that, they were proclaiming "Blessed is the King Who comes in the name of the Lord; Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" (Luke 19:38) and then a couple of verses later,

"...all the people were hanging on to every word He said." Luke 19:48

Why was He weeping? It would have looked to an objective bystander that everyone loved Him. But He knew that within the week, it was going to be "Crucify, crucify Him!" (Luke 23:21)

What happened between chapter 19 and chapter 23?

He didn't live up to their expectations.

"Blessed is the King..." They wanted Him to be King. They thought they were watching the new King enter Jerusalem on that donkey. They thought He had finally decided to overthrow the Romans. He was truly going to rescue them from the Romans. Their captivity, as when Moses rescued them from the Egyptians, was almost over.

Imagine their horror as He was arrested, tied up, and beaten almost to the point of death. Imagine how their hopes of freedom from the Romans began to whither away, dissolved in tears and disappointment. "But this was supposed to be the new Moses!" they must have thought. How can this be happening!? Who is going to save us now!?

Barabbas! Yes, just last week Barabbas was causing an insurrection against the Romans! He must be the one to save us! RELEASE HIM!

But Jesus knew they had it all wrong. "If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace!" He said. Yes, the real peace that Jesus offered and Barabbas didn't. But they didn't see it. He disappointed them. He let them down.

He didn't live up to their expectations.

And their reaction to those dashed hopes, like ours, was first denial, then horror, then anger.

"Crucify Him! If He can't be our King, if He's so weak that you can do this to Him, if He can't save Himself - then how is He going to save us!? Barabbas has a better chance, so let Barabbas go and Crucify Him!

Just like us. That's what we do when we suffer loss. We grieve, and it often looks like that. Denial first, then profound sadness or horror, and often we get angry.

But we were talking about expectations and hopes being dashed. When did we start talking about loss?

Unfulfilled expectations represent a terrible loss to us. Unrealized dreams is a profound loss. People letting us down means we had expectations they did not fulfil. It's a loss, and sometimes a profound one. We don't see our reaction as grief, so we think our anger is justified because they didn't do what they were supposed to do. We say "Crucify them!," and we then proceed to do just that with our hearts, and with our words.

But what was the real problem with the Israelites that day? Their expectations were all wrong. They thought one thing, but Jesus offered another. And they got angry.

How often do you get angry when someone doesn't live up to your expectations? If you're like the rest of us, probably pretty often.

Check yourselves when you get angry. Is it possible that your anger is more about your own flawed or misplaced expectations than it is their failure? Check your heart. Jesus said, "Blessed is he who is not offended by Me." (Mat 11:6)

I'd like to offer, "Blessed is he who is not offended."

The Greek word for "offended" is "skandalon." (ibid, page 1292, Strong's 4625) It refers to that little trigger on an animal trap that, when they touch it, the trap closes and they're caged. It refers specifically to the conduct of the person thus trapped. Our propensity to have that "righteous indignation," that offense, cages us. Satan loves it, and will set up the trap for us as often as he can, because it ruins our witness and our testimony. Don't ever forget that people are watching.

When people let you down, when they don't live up to your expectations, check yourself. Is it their failure, or your expectations that might be the problem? Does your anger solve the problem, or make it worse?

Find your humility, see yourself as the sinner that you are, understand that people are truly flawed and we all fall into that category. When you feel that anger coming on, don't say "I thank You that I'm not like other people," but say "God be merciful to me, the sinner!" (Luke 18:11 & 13).

I pray your heart, like the heart of our Lord, finds grace and humility in an eternal perspective (2 Cor 4:17-18). Let the offenses come as opportunities to be a witness. Let your testimony show that Jesus is in you, even in the face of dashed expectations.

Jesus didn't let them down at all. He offered them the peace they really sought. The peace that would have transformed their lives. They just missed it.

God bless you, and may the peace that surpasses understanding fill your heart.

Sue