John 7:40 When they heard these words, some in the crowd said, ‘This is really the prophet.’ 41Others said, ‘This is the Messiah.’* But some asked, ‘Surely the Messiah* does not come from Galilee, does he? 42Has not the scripture said that the Messiah* is descended from David and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?’ 43So there was a division in the crowd because of him. 44Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.
The gospel reading is about a LOT of things this morning, but where I have lifted my eyes is at the recognition how judgment can be so wrong when born of expectation and not experience where the Holy Spirit animates. Expectation is so very different than Hope.
The chief priests and Pharisees are distracted and obsessed and blinded by expectations of what the messiah looks like, who he should be, what he should say, even from whence he was to come – as the Mandy Hale quote suggests, denying them the pure joy of knowing Jesus as the son of God! As if they would know the messiah by a resume, complete with head shot.
Some of the greatest success stories in the business and political world – at least in our culture – have emerged out of a crowd of contenders with the most unlikely resume, from the most unexpected places and with nary the right look.
Despite their experience with Jesus – the love witnessed, the healings seen, the truth proclaimed – their expectation is far too powerful to change their world view, their ego, their investment in the rightness of their thinking. The hoped for messiah was to look, act, be one way and one way only – blinded they were by such expectations.
Expectations are born of the mind, not the spirit, crafted by what Paul calls, the flesh, and what I think of as our ego. Expectations of ourselves – what we should be, what kind of life we think we are entitled to, how we are to be known – these are all musings of our ego.
Expectations about relationships, situations, institutions fall on the rational side of a relational equation, in my book, and set a person or a group or an institution up for disappointment and failure. Failure to live into the life and person we are called to live and be, in Christ.
The gospel has me thinking about all the expectations I have crafted over the years with regard to self and to God’s church – and – how my experience in life of self and church has so often been counter-intuitive to those crafted expectations.
Further it has me thinking about how I have judged wrongly when the expectation was inevitably unmet – judged the other, blamed the other, seen the speck in the eye of the other – person or institution – if the expectation was born of my own selfishness.
Being aware of what role my own way of thinking plays in the way I understand self and church is a constant thought bubble of mine. I work hard at not presuming a point-of-view, sometimes to a point of being paralyzed, unable to move one way or the other – trying to excise all of my own thought-ego so I can hear what the spirit is saying – what Jesus would have me think, do, be.
Perhaps I have set myself up in some way for failure, because in ‘working hard’ at not letting my own thinking determine a path, a way of being, of loving – I have come to rely upon – to expect? – the Holy Spirit to be clear – perfectly clear – with me.
Hmm. Paradox, once again. I begin a reflection on the gospel that I think illuminates the danger in expectations born of self (flesh, ego) and I end with the realization I have built into this reflective faith discipline the expectation that the Holy Spirit will speak to me and show me the way once and for all.
Now that I didn’t expect.