Great Expectations

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”    John 14:1-3 (NLT)

Christmas has such a high level of expectation connected with it. No, I am not speaking just about presents. There is an expectation that our family time will be perfect with a time of fellowship that will be beyond anything we have experienced before. The meals will be better than any we have had. We will come through the holiday feeling better than we ever have. Here we are after the holiday and we are probably yet again, disappointed. Our expectations are built on people, things, and feelings that are not meant to carry us. They are not able to be all that we are seeking. We set ourselves up to fail when we choose fallible origins. Let us make a correction on our course today.

John 14-17 has always been four consecutive chapters in the Bible that, for me, are “stuffed” with things to learn. Not surprising as Jesus was probably doing His final “class” with the disciples before His death. It is here that I find the promises where I can place my expectations.

Words of comfort. Jesus begins with comfort. He has lived 33 years on this earth and knows our weaknesses and the pain that falls on us as we live our lives. Do not be afraid, Jesus says, because whatever we go through here – there is a perfect place waiting for us that He has prepared.

Points to the Triune. Jesus says clearly that if we believe in Him, we believe in the Father because they are one. If we ask Him, we have asked the Father. Then Jesus tells us that all that He has taught will be remembered because He is sending His Spirit to remind us. We are told again not to be afraid.

Expect the unexpected. Now Jesus addresses my “But! But!”. If I think that Jesus cannot possibly understand my life and how hard it is, Jesus starts Chapter 15 by warning me to stay attached to Him like a branch is on a vine. He uses this analogy to explain how I can live, truly live in all the dimensions, when I consciously choose to follow and soak up what He freely gives. Jesus then gives me the “bad news”. In all that Jesus has taught me He did not promise that I will have an easy time. If I am hated, Jesus was hated first. If someone wants to kill me for God (Chapter 16), they killed Him first.

I am promised joy and eternal life. Jesus brings this teaching full circle as He explains that my grief will turn to joy. That by following Him I will find His joy in moments when I need it most. And, first and foremost, I am to remember that in the midst of trouble in this world, Jesus has overcome the world.

Jesus prays…for me. Chapter 17 is a prayer spoken by Jesus. Not as well known as what we know as the Lord’s Prayer, but a prayer that is from His heart to the Father. He sets the example to me that I should pray for myself first and then for others. That speaks to me about allowing God to put me in the right place, the right focus, and then lift up others to be blessed in the same way.

Let us put our expectations on Jesus. Let us start and end our day with Him so that we are “set” to expect Him in every moment. Jesus will never disappoint.

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