“Philip found Nathanael and told him, ‘We have found the one Moses wrote about in the law, about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph’” (John 1:45).


Philip’s comments to Nathanael show that there was a common enough sense of a coming Messiah that they would know about the prophecies with little explanation. In Luke 2:25-38, we read about Simeon and Anna, two of many who were living in expectancy of the coming of the Promised One. Simeon had been promised he would not die before seeing Him, and it is said that Anna “spoke of Him to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.” The use of this word all shows that there was a cadre of people in whom the Messianic hope burned. However, it was not merely the devout who had expectations. In John 4 we read about the Samaritan woman, one of ill-repute, yet one who knew enough of Messianic expectations that it did not take her long to make the leap to consider Jesus as the fulfillment of those hopes.

But expectancy and expectations have subtle differences.Expectancy is an attitude of watching for God to fulfill His word, while expectations attach our own ideas as to how that will work out. And having been under the thumb of a succession of conquerors, the expectations of that time were for the fulfillment of the Davidic covenant—a ruler to come from the line of David, to throw off the Gentile rule, and set up an eternal righteous kingdom.

John MacArthur says, “What the scholars of Jesus’ time failed to take into account, however, was the theme of Isaiah 53. Before conquering the last of His enemies and establishing His throne in Jerusalem, Messiah would first shed His own blood in order to pay the redemption price for sin and thereby ransom people for God…in short, there was no place in Jewish Messianic theology for a sacrificial, dead, or even risen Messiah.”

• What have been the times in your life when God hasn’t “lived up” to your expectations?
• How have you come to terms with this disappointment? Have you yet been able to see how God’s way is superior to yours?

Lord, Your ways are above our ways, yet too often I still want my way. Help me to learn to have expectancy that You will fulfill Your promises, without tying that up with expectations of my own making. Show me where my expectations are getting in the way even now.

by Sheri Cook, Director of Special Ministries
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