Jesus asked the crowd “what did you expect when you went down to see John the Baptist? Did you expect to see a man dressed in an expensive suit with gold rings and a BMW key tag? No, those people don’t hang around that part of town. You went to see a prophet – someone who would proclaim the Kingdom and help you enter into it.” Okay, that’s a bit of a paraphrase.
But I wonder what we expected when we came to see Jesus. Did we expect to meet someone in Armani with a briefcase, like an investment banker or a lawyer who would deal with our woes for us? No, we came to see a man acquainted with sorrow, one who understood our needs because he walked in our shoes, yet without sin, and who was, and is, able to deliver and redeem us.
Have our expectations changed? The saying goes ‘a leopard can’t change his spots’ – he will always be a leopard. I could say that our Savior can’t change his scars – he will always be the Jesus we read of in the Bible. And if the call of Jesus to his disciples was “Come, Follow me” and “anyone who will not take up his cross daily and follow me cannot be my disciple’ and “anyone who puts his hand to the plough but looks back is not worthy of me” and that he calls us to a life of giving for the sake of others, of sacrifice, of service, of humility and submission to him, of being different to how we were… If this is the Jesus we read of in the Bible – which it is – then what did we expect?
The call of Jesus doesn’t change. We are called to a be a people who proclaim the Kingdom of God and who help people to enter into it. That is what must define us and if it doesn’t, then we are not really who we are supposed to be.
If these things do in fact define us – if we are truly walking in the footsteps of Jesus, then there will be something different about us and those we come into contact with will see it. Make no mistake, the moment you identify as a follower of Jesus, people will be watching you and how you live will impact them. It doesn’t mean we will get it all right or be perfect, but there will be something which makes us somehow different.
I wonder if Jesus won’t ask people “What did you expect when you looked at [insert your name here]? Did you hope to see someone who looked like a good Christian (whatever that is) or did all the right Christian things (whatever they are)? No, you wanted to see someone who could usher you into the Kingdom of God”.
Let’s stop trying to be something we are not. Let’s be authentic to who we are as we walk with Jesus, because who you actually are is the person Jesus called to “come, follow me”, to take up your cross and follow him, and to not look back, but to look forward as he redeems and delivers you.