How could the ones who spent three years living with Jesus not realize He was standing right in front of them? In John 20, when Mary arrived at the tomb, she couldn’t recognize the true Jesus because she had her mind set on a lifeless version. Our expectations of what we think God will look like, what He will do, as well as when and how he will work and move can cloud our vision so that even when we are in His presence, we are “ever seeing but never perceiving…” (Mark 4:12) who He really is.
Mary wasn’t alone in missing the real Jesus because she was busy looking for an expected one.
Herod was looking for a Jesus that would impress him (Luke 23:8).
Pilate looked for a Jesus that would explain himself (John 18:35).
The crowd looked for a Jesus that would wield political power (Matt 27:18).
The Pharisees and Sadducees looked for a Jesus that would do what they told him (Matt 12:38).
Nicodemus looked for a Jesus that would fit into his religious tradition (John 3:4).
The disciples on the road to Emmaus looked for a Jesus they could understand (Luke 24:21)
And, like Mary, I’ve often looked for a Jesus that looked the same as He did last time I saw Him (John 20:15). If I’m honest, I can think of a few different ways I, too, have asked the Living God for a dead one.
The only person in these chapters that recognized Jesus for who He truly is, was the centurion who declared “Surely he was the Son of God” (Matt 27:54). Unlike everyone else, he had no expectation and wasn’t looking for Jesus at all. Rather than looking for Jesus as He imagined Him to be, this man looked directly at him, and saw Him as He was. Unlike everyone chasing a counterfeit Jesus, this man saw the real thing and wasn’t disappointed.
The nature of our God is the same yesterday, today and forever, but that doesn’t mean He’s predictable. We can depend on His unchanging faithfulness, but we’ll miss Him entirely if we expect Him to always show up the way we assume He will. If you’re struggling to see God’s hand in your life, ask Him to reveal to you any expectations that may subtly be sketching a counterfeit savior that conceals the real One. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can surrender these expectations and simply gaze at Jesus as He is with no imposed filter. When we no longer look for God to fit conveniently into a predictable image like Waldo, we’ll find He’s more alive and infinitely closer than we ever thought possible. Let’s surrender our expectations, and be ready for God to reveal who He truly is.
Memory Verse: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13 NIV
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