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To Think Like Jesus: Expectations

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      History says that Columbus kept two reckonings(log books) on his initial voyage of discovery. One showed the ship’s true progress, and this he kept secret. Another false record he left open to the crew. In the second, he showed the ship making greater headway than was actually true. Why? In order to make the crossing before supplies were depleted, they needed to cover about seven hundred leagues each day. By claiming they had sailed each day beyond the seven hundred leagues, Columbus hoped to spread enthusiasm and defeat discouragement[1].

          Noble thoughts but wrong means.

          There is one thing about Jesus that he is not guilty of, which is not disclosing all the truth up front about being Christians. Jesus said this if we are to really follow him,  “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” Luk 14:26-27.  Jesus just tells us up front what he expects if we are to follow him. Jesus discloses what’s expected. I can’t help but naturally contrast what Jesus expects of me against what I was told to expect in the army.

          I remember that as soon as five minutes my group stepped off the grey hound bus in Ft. Knocks, KY for basic training, just about everyone had the same thing on their mind, which was “my recruiter didn’t say anything about all this!” “Why didn’t he?”

          What a wake up call that was? There was a lot of stuff that my recruiter failed to mention, especially what was expected of me right from the very get go!  I can understand little of their reasoning. If he had mentioned all there was, I probably won’t have volunteered. But there’s just something about being upfront and honest, that I missed. 

          Have you ever asked yourself the question, why does good, decent people seemed to be sucked into the weirdest groups? Some religions jealously guard their beliefs, granting access only to a chosen few. Some divulge their doctrines like medicine, a little at a time, as the converts can accept them. They teaspoon out their doctrines, building immunity to shock until their converts will believe anything, no matter how foolish or wrong. Christianity boasts of its availability to all! Jesus revealed God’s secrets to everyone. God keeps nothing from us concerning his expectations, demands, promises, and threats. His Word is open for inspection and investigation; it is a floodlight shining into the world so that anyone who wants to can see.

          If there’s one thing that’s not hidden in the bible at all it is God’s expectations of us as his children. Just as we parents expect certain things from our children, things which are reasonable, natural, and taught things; God expects some of the same exact things from us, period.

          The story of the barren fig tree presents the truth that the God we serve and love also expects some things to be found in us. And if these things aren’t found, woe unto us!

          The story is self explanatory, Jesus hungry and being that time of the year it was, the fig tree should have had figs on it. Mark even says specifically “And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves,” those leaves was a sure sign that figs should be found here. The Palestinian fig tree which is everywhere in Israel, hides its fruit under its foliage. So with the indication of leaves there should have been ripe fruit or even green fruit there, but Jesus finds none! 

          Jesus pronounced judgment upon this fig tree, it was pretty serious, because Jesus came expecting fruit because the tree had the leaves which went with the fruit, but not fruit!

          What a picture of our God! Our God is an expectant God! God expects some things to be where they should, especially if it has all the outward show that they are there!

A lot of people get bent out of shape here because instead of being patience and having mercy Jesus does what we read him do. Renders it unusable and forsaken! The next day the disciples saw the fig tree that Jesus spoke to and it was dried up from the roots! It had wasted away!

          What a serious thought it is to think that God has expectations of us and there’s no mercy or second chances if we are missing his expectations in our lives!    

           

There are some thoughts here about God’s expectations.

I. God’s expectations for Israel 

          The first ting that we should understand is the context. Jesus has been rejected as their messiah and king and he has but a few days now until he will die. He uses this fig tree first to picture his disappointment and his rejection of the nation of Israel. Matthew does a better job at sectioning this event when Jesus was outside the temple answering the disciples’ questions about the end of the age, the world and the destruction of Jerusalem. Jesus used the fig tree as a type of the nation Israel, (Matt. 24; 23). So just as we see jesus rejecting this fig tree, he has surely for a time rejected Israel as a nation that would have otherwise brought the good news of the Gospel to the rest of the world.

          With the destruction of their temple in 70 A.D. the Jews have been under the foot of the Gentiles occupation. If the Iraqs think that our short occupation is the pits, I wonder what they would think if they had to endure the hundreds of years the Jews had to endure of gentile occupation?

The Jews have been scattered, homeless at times, nation less at times, disrespected in the world and hated. And has anyone ever  asked the simple question, why?

The answer, is they have been rejected by God because they had leaves only and no fruit for God!  Oh, they had a good outward show, but no reality. They sure could seem religious when compared to the heathens, but when compared to God they were just as the heathens.

Now they had there good points.

They had a great history of leaders and of God’s sure workings among them! They had no reason to doubt that God wanted them from all the peoples of the earth.

They had the scriptures! They were passed down, kept untainted by the heathen world of philosophy, kept right up to the time of Jesus!

They even produced the saviour humanly speaking! Jesus was from the tribe of Judah! I laugh to myself sometimes when I see a picture or figurine of a black Jesus, or even a Jesus with blond hair and blue eyes, why? Because Jesus was a descendant of Abraham, a Jew!

The Jew had all these things working for them, so why did they drop the ball?

          They had a good profession but no practice! They had a lot of promise but no fulfillment of that promise in their lives. They had talk but not walk! Jesus himself said, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. Mat 15:8 

      They proved just how far their heart was from God when they killed Jesus! God expected more from them, than what they showed him! The whole nation, its leaders all with one voice condemned him to die, totally being ignorant of what the scripture said. They rejected the very one that their scriptures foretold if only they would have read to see!

          What a very forceful picture the dried up fig tree is! That represents the nation of Israel now as a whole, yes individual Jews can be saved and we should share the gospel with them, but as a nation that once was God’s witnessing tool to the rest of the world, Israel is not!  Israel has been rejected and removed from the position she once had and has been set aside in the plan of God.

          Their rejection came about because they missed God’s expectations    for them! Instead of opening up the way to God they closed in around God and set up walls and hoops persons had to jump through and climb over to get to God! They made coming to God impossible for the average Jew let alone the gentile.

           Their present rejection will be reversed after the work of the tribulation period. They will see Jesus as he is, their one and only King and saviour and they will become the fiery evangelists to the rest of the world! What they could have been if they would have just anticipated God’s expectations in their lives.

II. The Christian and God’s expectations.

          The correct interpretation is Israel no doubt. But we as Christians can draw some valuable applications and understand how Jesus thinks about expectations.

          Following Jesus is different from the other religions that are in the world. One reason of difference is that Jesus expects and the others don’t or don’t much about what they expect!

          That’s why Jesus is not readily followed today in America, because a family, a person could hide in the crowd and not feel the expectations that Jesus has for them! The small church does have this blessing, you can’t remain anonymous! You have to take your place, take your stand, or you know that everyone knows you don’t.

          It is easy and convenient to serve in a church, serve a god that never asks anything of you. No wonder why they love it! Anyone would love the boss that never asked and demanded work from you! You would stay with that boss as long as you could!

  But truly following Jesus means expectations.

A. God expects us to be fruitful! Read John 15;1-8

1. Jesus expects us to be fruitful for him!

2. What is the fruit of a Christian? Think about this. The fruit of the apple tree is apples, the fruit of an orange tree is oranges, right? That’s simple. So the simple answer is that the fruit of Christians is other Christians.

3. The whole thrust of John 15 is that we just make ourselves available and keep a close relationship through prayer and the word with Jesus, if we do that then this fruit bearing won’t be so taxing.

4. Fruit is the proof of life, is it not? Because something is alive it produces after its kind.

5. Jesus desires fruit from our lives.

b. Jesus expects reality in our lives.

1. It is so easy to go through the motions isn’t it? It is so easy to fool the crowd and have then think one thing about you, even if its not true.

We can’t all be gifted. We can’t all be talented. We can’t all be skilled. We can’t all be popular and personal. But we can all be real! Jesus wants us to be real!  

Real in prayer. Real in the bible. Real in the world. Real when your alone as well in a crowd.

          Jesus had the serest rebukes for the religious leaders in his day because they were what he said Hypocrites! The word hypocrite comes from a Greek word which means mask! The Greek actors would put on a mask with a smile on it and parade around the theater and they would laugh. Then they would come out with a mask with a frown and they all would fell said. But they would always take the mask off before they went home and their true face and emotions would be seen. Jesus says that those religious leaders had on masks, religious masks while they were around their crowd and when they went home the masks would come off!

          The hypocrite wears a mask for everyone to see, because they don’t won’t to be thought of as poor and undone. Leaves only and not real fruit!

C. Jesus expects the best from us even when he knows its not there.

          Some folks imagine a real problem here. They like to say that if Jesus was truly God, he would have known that there was no fruit on the fig tree and wouldn’t need to look. That’s true to a degree. If this passage was all of the bible we might think that as well, but we don’t, we have the complete mind of God. We know without a doubt that Jesus is God, so there’s another reason why Jesus looks for fruit on this tree.

          Jesus looks not because he lacks knowledge, Jesus looks out of love and hope. He looks because he knows that a life lived without his life giving flow ends up in waste. Jesus does not abandon hope even for the ones that he knows as God has nothing! He looks maybe to inspire a second wind for the individual.

          God is the last person to ever give up! We always fear that God has given up on us and our troubles right? But the truth is that we are the ones that give up on ourselves, God hangs in there even knowing what he does as God!

          Closing: My dad and I planted a peach tree years ago, I think I was eight. That tree would bloom and get real pretty and smell like a bunch of peaches were hanging right there. Funny, but it never born fruit. I remember asking dad when I was about 12 if we should cut down the tree, It has never produced any fruit I said. Dad said, yeah, but lets give it another year. Well, time came when I wasn’t so interested in such things and for years that tree has been there, and last time I was home dad said that the tree produced peaches for the very first time!

          This tree is huge! And it has now come to the place where it should have been all along!

          The father has a lot of patience mixed in there with his expectations of us doesn’t he. He waits for us to get right and start to living right.

God help us To think like Jesus about his expectations from us?

     


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[1] Hurley, V. (2000, c1995). Speaker's sourcebook of new illustrations (electronic ed.) (Page 32). Dallas: Word Publishers.

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