Great Expectations

One way to discover where God is working in your heart is to notice themes happening around you. Often, we think of these as coincidences. This has been happening to me recently. God keeps bringing up the topic of expectation into my life. I wrote a blog post about the attitudes we adopt when it comes to gift-giving, highlighting the problems with giving with expectations attached to the gift (you can find it here). Then, at Bible Study, our leader accidentally played the wrong video for the week. We ended up having a lively conversation about the joys and sorrows that come into our marriages due to realistic and unrealistic expectations that we weren’t supposed to have until mid-January.

When I began preparing to write this reflection, I was at a loss. I did not feel inspired and was not sure what the Holy Spirit was asking of me. I read it to my husband to get his take. You’ll never guess what he pulled out if it – the blindness of the Jewish leaders due to strongly held expectations about the Messiah and His forerunner.

Jesus says that Elijah had already come, as the prophecies had foretold. But the people “did not recognize him.” The prophet Malachi foretold that Elijah would return before the day of the Lord (Mal 3:23). Knowing the Scriptures well, the people of God knew that God keeps His promises. However, by the time of Jesus, many of the leaders were more concerned with establishing and maintaining their positions of power and authority. They believed they were to be praised for how well they were performing their religious duties. They expected to be brought front and center as exemplars for all the people when Elijah came.

What did they get? To be called out for hypocrisy and compared to a brood of vipers. Their expectations of praise and honor clouded their hearts. They were not able to see John for who he was in his mission as Elijah. Then, when Jesus came, they were unprepared to receive Him as the Messiah.

Have you noticed how expectations can be troublesome? Especially when they are intended to be fulfilled by others. We get let down, hurt, and have all sorts of unwelcome feelings. Sometimes, the other person doesn’t even know what they did wrong, especially when our expectation of them was unrealistic.

We might have unrealistic expectations of who Jesus is, like the Jewish elders did. Jesus is in your neighbor who rakes your leaves when you can’t get to them, yes. But Jesus is also in the person who cuts you off on the highway. Jesus is in the generous donor to the homeless shelter. But Jesus is also in each and every person who walks through its doors. We are called to see the face of Jesus in every person we encounter, not just those who meet our expectations.

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Kate Taliaferro is an Air Force wife and mother. She is blessed to be able to homeschool, bake bread and fold endless piles of laundry. When not planning a school day, writing a blog post or cooking pasta, Kate can be found curled up with a book or working with some kind of fiber craft. Kate blogs at

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