Obey | Devotion #1: Who?
John Carter | Director of Finance & HR
Have you ever set expectations for someone? Do you have expectations for your employee, spouse, or child? Have you asked your kid to clean their room before they start playing a video game or computer game? You go outside to work in the yard, come back in, and you see them playing on the computer. You ask your kid, “Hey, did you get the room cleaned?” His response, “Yeah, of course, I did.” When you go up there, you can tell they have picked up some things, but it was not quite to your expectations.
One of the major causes of conflict is missed expectations. If you have never experienced such a thing, give it time because it will inevitably happen to you. It can even happen when you purchase products. You think you are getting one thing and then when you get it in your hand it not quite what you expected.
I am sure you can relate one way or another to this idea of missed expectations. The disciples experienced this “miss expectation” after the cross. Their whole expectation was that Jesus would redeem them from Roman rule. They were probably surprised that Jesus was arrested and even more so that He was crucified. It is interesting to read the Gospel accounts of when Jesus returns to the Eleven to reiterate His expectations to His closest friends.
Mark’s account is most interesting to me. The passage says, Jesus found the eleven disciples reclining at a table, He then rebuked them because they did not believe what others had said about Him rising from the dead. Jesus Himself said He would rise again on the third day (Matthew 16:21). Jesus set the expectation, but there were a few of the Eleven that missed it. Jesus sets the expectation of what He wants His disciples to do. If you have been in church for any amount of time, the “Great Commission” is something you have heard before.
Read the following passages:
“Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’”
“Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.’”
Luke 24:35-39; 46-49
“Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread. As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, ‘Peace to you!’ But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. And he said to them, ‘Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.’”
“And said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.’”
“On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”
The above passages all describe the same thing, Jesus had expectations for His disciples. He gives clear instructions for His disciples. It also helps us see the state of mind that some of the disciples felt.
It is so easy for us to ridicule the doubting disciples until we reflect it in our own lives. Have you ever doubted God? Have you ever been unsure of His leading? Have you ever been uncertain of His expectations? As I study these passages about the Great Commission, I cannot help but relate, just a little, to those doubting disciples. Doubt is like this, “Is God real?” or “Is Jesus real?” These were the first doubts I had to deal with in my own life. The answer is, Yes! He is real! Jesus has not stopped showing His realness to me ever since I asked Him to help me with my doubt. I love that Jesus shared the Gospel when dealing with the doubt (Luke 24:46-47 and Mark 16:16).
There is another level of doubt that goes like this, “Can I do what God wants me to do? Do I have the skills? What if I fail?” and “What if I cannot meet the expectations?” Maybe you read the passages as a good idea or a suggestion. You might see them as something the original eleven should do, or maybe someone else should do. Have you ever considered that it was Jesus’ expectation for us, as a church, to fulfill the Great Commission? How about us as individuals, do you think it applies to you? Maybe you think the same questions just previously listed in regards to the expectations set for us? There are a couple of words that would have encouraged the disciples in overcoming their doubt they may have experienced. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me,” “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age,” and “Behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you…” These words spoken by Jesus would have been huge words of encouragement to the eleven disciples. These words also apply to as in this current day and age.
How do we view the expectations set by Jesus for His disciples? Is it personal? Do you think it applies to you? Let us consider that the One who asks us to do these things is the One who rose from the dead. He gave proof of that to those who doubted. He also promised that He would be with us and send the Holy Spirit to be with us through it all. I hope this encourages you not to miss the expectations set by Jesus, and that the fear and doubt that can so often creep into our hearts can be conquered in knowing that He is with us to the end of the age!