Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Come Thou Unexpected Jesus!

There’s an old Charles Wesley hymn that begins “Come, thou long-expected Jesus.” Like all Charles Wesley hymns, it’s lovely, and it’s theologically astute, but with Easter coming, I always think the first line could use a little tweaking: Come, thou UNEXPECTED Jesus. It’s an Advent hymn, I know, but I think of it again at Easter every year.

We have long expected Jesus, to work in the world, to change our hearts, to return in majesty and triumph. And I think that’s the real danger – what we expect of Jesus. Too many of us expect Jesus to turn up and fit our prejudices: to appear and hate Republicans, or Democrats. To give those who look like us, or think like us, a free ticket to heaven, and to smite those we disagree with. To make people elect or damned not according to their souls, but according to our own prejudices.

We know better. It’s terribly difficult to remember that God isn’t busy putting on command performances for our entertainment and smug self-satisfaction, that God doesn’t smite on our whims merely because we feel morally superior. We do know better, but we forget.

Jesus overthrows all these expectations and, if we let Scripture reach our hearts, jars us again and again out of our complacent social and cultural “Christianity” into a true understanding of God’s love – and demands.

The Jews knew what kind of savior they expected in the first century: A war leader who would overthrow the foreign rule of the Romans. They got a poverty-stricken infant in a barn somewhere in a Galilean backwater. They got a criminal who claimed to do miracles, but couldn’t – or didn’t – prevent himself from a horrible execution. They got a man making demands on them, not the Romans, to give up their wealth, to love their enemies, to leave behind all things on earth and follow God.

This was not the messiah who was supposed to appear.

This was not – at all – what they expected. Instead of throwing off the rule of the Romans, he threw off the dominion of death. Rather than freeing the Jews from foreign rule, he freed all mankind from sin.

So come, thou unexpected Jesus!

Come thou infant, come thou criminal, come thou dead-and-risen Son of God!

Surprise us!


Labrys6 said...

Sadly, Eyebrows, if He suddenly showed up again as I tend to believe He WAS, it would not only be unexpected---but generally unwanted. And for all the reasons you stated that people claim to want Him to return.

Nicole said...

Preach it sister!