It happens every Christmas. The long box that you thought was a solar calculator turned out to be a purple metallic tie. That big package that looked like a new appliance? A lime green, flowered and gilt-edged vase.
Vacations sometimes fall short of grand hopes too. Our neighbors planned a short holiday to B.C. in their motor home. Two hours from home, everything changed. A truck plowed into the back of their RV and the expected vacation never happened.
Unfulfilled expectations cloud marriages. A new wife thinks Prince Charming will always be charming; and he never expects that first time he sees her hair in rollers. Often reality is far from amusing. Many times the “surprises” are accepted, things are worked out, and life goes on. Sad are the situations where these words, “this isn’t what I wanted...” signal rejection — all because of unfulfilled expectations.
Some of the people in first century Palestine also had high hopes. They looked for a Messiah. Hopefully He would deliver them from the tyranny of Rome.
When Jesus began His ministry, many thought this must be the One who would fulfill their dreams. He healed every sick person who came to Him. He fed them when they were hungry. He preached words of hope and comfort to their barren hearts. Surely Messiah had come, to not only fill their bellies and bless their hurts, but also set them free in their own land. Surely, this One would never allow them a day of sorrow or emptiness again. They jumped on the bandwagon, full of anticipation.
But a day came when Jesus addressed their expectations. He told them: “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but (work) for food that endures to eternal life, which the son of Man will give you...”
Sounds as if the free lunch isn’t going to be free after all, but undaunted, they asked, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” In other words, If the bread has a price tag, let us know what it is.
Jesus replied, “the work of God is this: to believe in the one He has sent” Jesus went on to explain to them that He is the bread of life, the one who satisfies the deepest needs of the spirit. All who come to Him will never go hungry, all who the Father gives Him will never be driven away or lost but raised to everlasting life. He said, “I am the bread of life... If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world... The Spirit gives life... the words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life...” (see John, chapter 6).
And then, “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed Him.” Incredible! They wanted another kind of bread!
People still seem more concerned with this life’s comforts than what will happen after it is over. If Jesus can make their bed roses, He appeals. If not, He becomes the object of a sort of contemporary sour grapes attitude. If He won’t do what we want Him to do, who needs it?
Didn’t anyone catch what Jesus said he WOULD do? This passage alone promises at least three things: 1) Spiritual satisfaction — the deepest longings of the heart fully met. 2) Eternal life to all who believe. 3) Security, forever. Incredible that the people of that day turned away from such promises seemingly because a full pantry didn’t go along with them. I wonder if the reasons for rejecting Him today are any more logical?