The generation of Jews to which Jesus came continued in the expectation of their forefathers. The Messiah would sit on the throne of David and rule over all nations. Surely, that meant He would overthrow Rome and end the centuries-long oppression Israel had endured under several different empires. The throngs who hailed Jesus as He rode a donkey colt into Jerusalem for the Passover celebration must’ve thought He would very soon lead them into a glorious victory over Caesar. But He and His Father had something much better in mind. Rather than sitting on the throne in Jerusalem constructed by human hands, The Son would soon sit down at the right hand of the Father in Heaven, having fully made the sacrificial payment for the sins of all who did, and would, believe in Him. The Roman Empire wasn’t the enemy from whom He would deliver His people. Nor were it the Greeks, the Medo-Persians, or the Assyrians. It was death, Hell, and the grave, the age-old bullies of humankind, whose power would be overthrown. As Jesus rose like a beam of light out of the dark grave designed to hold Him, He defeated our final enemy, and freed us from the bondage we deserve.
Three days after His corpse was taken down and laid in the tomb, Jesus showed Himself alive again to His closest followers, and word spread that He was alive. He appeared later to more followers before ascending into Heaven, at which time angels announced that He would one day descend back to earth. Now we know, by the pens of His apostles, that when He returns, He will come in great majesty as our glorious King, starkly different from His humble first coming to a virgin and laid in a manger. It is then that the world will see His power and His glory. What a better reign that will be than the one the first century Jews and their ancestors envisioned! How much more splendid to be enthroned over Heaven, the earth, and the under-earth! How much more victorious to subdue every region, every, nation, every tribe, every tongue! How much less magnificent to sit on Jerusalem’s throne, having conquered mere Rome! Yet such is the difference between God’s plans and man’s, between the hopes of people and the vision of the Almighty, between the expectations of the greatest faith and the reality that God brings about.
I suffered a major stroke seven months ago. A couple of months into my recovery, having struggled with how to organize my faith in my situation, I decided to ask God for, and believe Him for, complete recovery, and leave the timing and the process up to Him. My role has been to trust Him each day and walk with Him through the process. Now all these months later, it seems from my perspective as though I’ve been progressing at a snail’s pace (although my wife, my kids, and other supporters somehow see more rapid improvement). The other day, I was meditating on this verse:
Never doubt God’s mighty power to work in you. He will achieve infinitely more than
your greatest request, your most unbelievable dream, and exceed your wildest
imagination! He will outdo them all, for His miraculous power constantly energizes you.
(Ephesians 3:20, The Passion Translation)
At one point that day, I got on my knees and said, “Lord, I don’t know exactly what my situation is going to look like when you complete this, but I know it’s going to be far better than if I were deciding it.” As I was writing this today, I took a break and went over to my wife for one of her life-giving hugs, and told her that I’m so glad God is in charge of my outcomes. Maybe it’ll be as much better as Heaven is better than earth. If it is, I shouldn’t be surprised. How about your situation? Do you think God can and will exceed your expectation for it? Tell you what. If you’ll pray for me to trust God to that end, I’ll do the same for you. Praying now…