EXPECTATIONS AND ACCEPTANCE - P2
“He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority’” (Acts 1:7).
When the Apostles first met Jesus, they expected him to fulfill the Word of God as they interpreted it—Jesus would raise an army and be the conquering king they had read about in Isaiah who would subdue the gentiles. They were so possessed by their expectations that they argued with each other repeatedly “as to which of them might be the greatest” (Lk. 9:46b) in Christ’s Kingdom.
But Jesus did not fulfill this expectation because it was built on a faulty interpretation of God’s Word—completely ignoring every passage about the suffering Messiah. And when He died on the cross, they were at a total loss for understanding what had happened. They locked themselves indoors for fear that they would suffer the same fate Jesus had.
And when Jesus rose from the dead—once the shock wore off—the disciples were struggling to understand why He didn’t take the throne. Peter in particular seems to have struggled with the change in expectations. He infamously declared to the disciples, “I am going fishing” (Jn. 21:3), almost as if his patience had worn out. He did this despite Jesus telling them, “You are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Lk. 24:49b). And all the other disciples went with him. It was a return to their old lives, and it was here that Jesus found them and confronted Peter gently, asking him, “‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Tend My lambs’” (Jn. 21:15). Peter was to serve others, not serve his own expectations. Jesus went further to tell him, “‘when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go.’ Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, ‘Follow Me!’” (Jn. 21:18-19) Jesus was telling Him he was to serve Him in the same way Jesus had served the Father, even if that meant the opposite of Peter’s expectations for his own life. “Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them….‘Lord, and what about this man?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!’” (Jn. 21:20-22) The message: the cost of discipleship means following Jesus regardless of what it costs you in this life—and that cost is between Him and you, not comparable to any other person’s walk of faith.
And yet, just before Jesus’ ascension, they “were asking Him, saying, ‘Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?’” (Acts 1:6b) Seriously, one’s expectations can be a very difficult thing to overcome. Jesus replied that it wasn’t for them to know, but, “you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Following Christ was their mission, regardless of whether that met their expectations or not.
The change in Peter was incredible. He explains a valuable insight in his first epistle: “those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right” (1 Pt. 4:19). The focus becomes God and His will, not what we want of Him or expect Him to do—it is “acceptance” in our following. He also pointed out that “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Pt. 3:8-9).
Peter’s focus had completely changed to be selfless in his service to Jesus with a love for the lost—his expectations no longer possessed him, and he welcomed into the Church as fellow Brothers and heirs the very people he had wanted to conquer and subdue. May we endeavor to mature likewise in our walk. Amen.