When God Doesn’t Meet Our Expectations


MAT 26:6-16 ESV

Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at table. And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor.” But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me.  For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me.  In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial.  Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.”  

Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.

“Then one of the twelve…” Judas seemed to take offense at Jesus’ reaction to being anointed with the perfume. He was in charge of the money, so maybe it bothered him that the money could not go through him… Maybe he was the one, or one of those, who were indignant at the pouring of the perfume. If that was the case, coupled with thinking of Jesus as a military revolutionary… it is understandable that he becomes disenfranchised. Not excusable, but understandable. Here’s Jesus talking about dying and being anointed for burial? How about him being the Chosen One? What about that?

I can’t relate to Judas completely… But the idea of God not meeting expectations I get. The thing is, though, those expectations are more about what I want than about what God has promised. I get frustrated when I don’t get the blessing that I desire, or the “favor” that I want in a particular situation. These things don’t affect the reality about who God is in any way; just who I want him to be. Like Judas, building up some sort of annoyance about the death of Jesus, these things can get us far off of God’s path.  If we follow our own expectations, we are following death rather than life. Judas found that to be literally true: he couldn’t live with himself and killed himself shortly after Jesus’ crucifixion. But if we believe Jesus to be true, then we find that any way but his way leads to death anyway.

Perhaps it is best to follow his example in this regard, “Lord not my will, but your will be done.” After all, a military leader may have brought a victory, but it would only last for a little while. But the victory Jesus won at the cross and through the Resurrection is everlasting.

Lord, may I follow your will and not my own expectations of who you are or should be. I don’t want the God that I can imagine and who would think like me. I want you in all your power and mystery and greatness. Help me to let go of who I expect you to be so I can find and follow who you really are. Amen.