Jesus Disappoints Everyone
What is Jesus' answer to John's messengers? "Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor" (Matt 11:4-5). In effect, Jesus is saying: Tell John that your God has come—that he has come with a vengeance. John, your God has come to save you.
In other words, like John we are disappointed with Jesus because we do not see what he is really doing. It turns out that we have been laboring under a major misapprehension. Jesus came for us, but that does not mean that he came to please us. Jesus came for us, but he does not answer to us. He will not subject himself to our agenda, no matter how good that agenda might be. Instead, Jesus demands that we submit ourselves to his agenda.
Is the solution to our disappointment, then, to "suck it up" and "tough it out"? Or to admit that "life is disappointing" and resolve to "get over it"? No, just the opposite. Jesus' parting words to John's disciples were words of both blessing and warning: "Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me" (Matt. 11:6). These were the last words that John would hear from Jesus before his death, and they are Jesus' last words to us in our disappointment—no matter what the cause.
In the face of great disappointment, we usually ask for an explanation. This is because we foolishly think that an explanation will make us feel better. Has it ever occurred to us that it might do the opposite? Instead of an explanation, Jesus offers something far superior: himself. When it comes to disappointment, there is no other remedy. It is the nature of disappointment to match us measure for measure. As long as we hold on to it, disappointment will wrap itself around our heart like a great snake. The tighter we hold on to it, the tighter it will grip us. The only way to free ourselves is to bow the knee to Christ.
We can hold on to disappointment, or we can hold on to Christ. We can place our disappointment under the power of the Cross and hold on to hope. When we offer our disappointment to Christ, we really offer ourselves to him. As long as we hold on to hope, we surrender ourselves to the grip of God's grace. John should have known. This is what the voice from heaven had said all along: "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased" (Matt. 3:17). Jesus disappoints everybody. Everybody except for One.
John Koessler, professor of pastoral studies at Moody Bible Institute, is the author of Folly, Grace, and Power: The Mysterious Act of Preaching (Zondervan).
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Previous articles by John Koessler include:
Disappointed with Intimacy | We set ourselves up for confusion about God if we forget that the best is yet to come. (November 16, 2011)
The Trajectory of Worship | What's really happening when we praise God in song? (March 11, 2011)
Eat, Drink, and Be Hungry | It's emptiness, not fullness, that Jesus blesses. (August 17, 2007)
Come, Lord Jesus—But Not Too Soon | Why it's hard to be heavenly minded. (August 25, 2005)