Unmet Expectations. Matthew 21.1-11
I’ve been telling you – we are coming to the end.
What happened in that short week?
What happened in the week that started with the people hailing Jesus
as king on Sunday, shouting his praises . . .
and ended with some of the same people shouting ‘Crucify him!’?
Expectations. Namely, unmet expectations. Expectations unmet by Jesus.
Oh, we all have expectations of Jesus if we stop and think about it. What are yours? That Jesus will _______ in your life? Hmmm, something to think about.
Let’s step a little closer to the incredible events of that week, and what we might learn about Jesus and the nature of people, including ourselves.
Jesus is just two miles out now on his approach to Jerusalem, near the Mount of Olives, so named because of the groves of olive trees that have grown on its slopes for thousands of years. Jesus is on the road into Jerusalem, passing by the Mount . . . sights, places, even the ground on which he walked so familiar to him as he deliberately strode toward his end. He was surely full of so many thoughts and emotions. Can you only imagine? Even though he has told the disciples multiple times that he was going there to suffer and die, we do not know of what they were thinking on this day when the people were shouting praises to Jesus.
It is Passover time in Jerusalem, and the city is filled beyond capacity with pilgrims who came to observe the feast. Jesus enters through the eastern gate, riding on a donkey, to the sounds of joyful cheers. Five days’ later, they would crucify Jesus, but on this day, they celebrated him, believing him to be their Messiah who would soon topple Rome and set up his earthly kingdom.
Matthew writes, “As Jesus and the disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to the town of Bethphage on the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of them on ahead. “Go into the village over there,” he said. “As soon as you enter it, you will see a donkey tied there, with its colt beside it. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone asks what you are doing, just say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will immediately let you take them.”
This took place to fulfill the prophecy that said,
“Tell the people of Jerusalem,
‘Look, your King is coming to you.
He is humble, riding on a donkey—
riding on a donkey’s colt.’”
The two disciples did as Jesus commanded. They brought the donkey and the colt to him and threw their garments over the colt, and he sat on it.
Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Jesus was in the center of the procession, and the people all around him were shouting,
“Praise God for the Son of David!
Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Praise God in highest heaven!”
The entire city of Jerusalem was in an uproar as he entered. “Who is this?” they asked.
And the crowds replied, “It’s Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” 21.1-11
The crowds of people, young and old, went crazy, shouting and celebrating the Messiah. In fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy,1 Jesus is riding on a donkey, symbolic of a loud statement. This is a bold move on his part, but it was his time, and he would come into the crowded city in full view of everyone—pilgrims, disciples, his family, the Pharisees and Jewish leaders who sought to kill him.
Finally, Jesus would overthrow Rome, and establish his earthly kingdom! Hosanna! Finally, he would set his people free! Hosanna! Down with Rome!
Except that is not the kingdom that Jesus came to establish—he did not come to set up a political, earthly kingdom, but a heavenly one.
When Jesus failed to meet their expectations, the people turned on him and delivered him into the hands of those who had the authority to destroy him. When Jesus failed to meet their expectations, many missed the Messiah and had no further use for him.
I am not so different, neither are you, Friend. We want Jesus to measure up to who we think he should be.
We give Jesus a shot,
but if he doesn’t deliver the sort of life we think we should have,
if things do not add up,
then we displace him.
We say things like, ‘yeah, it just isn’t working for me.’ Meaning ‘I tried Jesus—I opened the door, let Jesus in as a trial, but things just weren’t like I expected…not working for me, so I’m kinda over it—Oh, and Jesus too.’
Fact is, Jesus does not always perform the way we think he ought. He does not always answer prayers the way we think best, but he is no less God. He is no less our Savior who sacrificed it all for us. And Jesus truly did come to set us free—from ourselves and from sin and its penalties.2 Jesus had far more in mind than the tyranny of the first century Roman government.
1 – Zechariah 9.9-10
2 – Romans 8.1-2; John 8.32