Has anyone else ever experienced a disappointment? I have.
Speaking for myself I have a tendency to exaggerate the potential benefits of an anticipated experience, encounter, or event. This is something I have done since I was a child. I have a very vivid early childhood memory around a family trip to visit my grandparents who were living in Colorado at the time. I remember being so excited about the visit that I had convinced myself that mygrandparents were going to meet us somewhere along the journey. There is no rational reason for my expectation, but I do remember that every time we stopped, no matter the location, I fully expected to see my grandparents there waiting for me. In fact, I had so convinced myself of this that at one rest area I ran up to an elderly couple crying out “grandpa, grandma” only to discover they were not at all my grandpa nor my grandma. This particular experience embedded itself into memory not only because of the embarrassment I experienced, but more sodue to the disappointment. I rememberbeing very disappointed that my grandparents had not “come out” to meet me…atsome random rest stop…100 miles from their home.
Unfortunately, that is not the last time in my life when I created and allowed unrealistic and fantastical expectations to distort my thoughts or dictate my behavior. I have done this many times. I have done this with jobs, promotions, vacations, with things, and I have done this, far too many times, with my relationships. In the anticipation of something wonderful I have many times distorted that wonder with unfounded desires.
In today’s Gospel Luke confronts expectations. He challenges his readers to examine their expectations about the Messiah. The Messiah who was promised to restore Israel and save the world. The Messiah that Israel and the rest of the world were waiting with great expectation.
Luke challenges his readers expectations by building a bridge. A bridge that brought the prophecy of the Old Testament across the chasm of anticipation and places the realization of the expected Messiah in a specific time and in a specific place. This bridge on which our expectations traveled is called John the Baptist, the desert voice calling Israel to prepare for the Lord’s coming.
In addition, Luke also identifies the geo-political and religious leaders of that time, thereby, establishing a marker, a moment, when Jesus Christ, the Messiah, began his mission. His mission to fulfill all the promises of God.
What are these promises? These promises are found in the words of Isaiah which Luke cites in his Gospel. This central section of the Book of Isaiah, from which Luke quotes, has been titled by some scholars as “The Book of the Consolation of Israel.” These consolations were given to Israel in a time of exile, a period of time when hope and expectation where all that remained of a once and great nation. These consolations point to an entire symphony of biblical promises to be fulfilled by the Lord.
The Lord will:
- Rescue the poor and oppressed (Is 41:17; 42:7; 49:13
- Pour out the Spirit (44:3),
- Restore Israel (43:5-7; 48:20; 49:5),
- Come to Jerusalem as King (40:9-10; 52:7-10),
- Destroy his enemies (41:11-13; 47:1-15),
- Show mercy to his children (43:25; 44:22; 55:7).
- Be the Messianic Servant
- whose mission is to bless the nations (42:1-4; 49:1-6)
- atone for sin (50:4-9; 52:13-53:12)
All of the expectations, these promises, contained in the Book of Isaiah, which Luke so beautifully brings forward to a time and space when he identifies John the Baptist as the; voice of one crying out in the desert: Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.”
Yet, what meaning can we, the modern-day followers of Christ, hope to find in this Gospel? What can we, as believers in the witnesscarried down to us through the Apostles and Christ’s Church, hope to claim inthese promises? I challenge you mybrothers and sisters in Christ that for us; because our faith is firmly founded in our Lord’s 1st coming, and that our hope blossoms in the belief that he is coming again, then our expectations for the future fulfillment of the promises of God are manifested in our actions.
Simply put… are you manifesting the promises of God in your life. I ask you to examine your life in the light of the promises of God. Are you responding to the poor and oppressed? Defending their causes? Does the goodness of God in you effect and impact the world around you? Are you merciful? Are others blessed by you and because of you?
Again, if we truly believe that Jesus Christ came once, as a man for mankind, and we rest our hope that he will soon come again, then ought we not be engaged in his work. Our work is too continue the work to which we were assigned by the great commission of our Lord, to go and make disciples of all the world through the preaching, teaching, and most importantly living the Gospel.