Luke 3:15-16, 21-22
The people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Christ. John answered them all, saying, “I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” After all the people had been baptized and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
We’ve all had the experience of building-up our expectations to a level that outgrows the actual gift that is being given to us. Whether it’s “socks on Christmas morning” or an unwanted gift from a distant relative on a Birthday, we’ve all felt that “let-down” at one time or another. There is a great part in the Christmas movie, “A Christmas Story” where the main character, Ralphie, finally gets his Little Orphan Annie decoder ring after collecting box tops for months from Ovaltine (a popular chocolate milk drink in his time) and then mailing them in. He anxiously awaits the Little Orphan Annie Radio Show later that evening, takes down the secret code with his well-sharpened #2 pencil, and then runs up to a bathroom, locks the door, and starts the secret message de-coding process. In the end, the ring ends-up telling Ralphie and other kids to “drink more Ovaltine”. Ralphie was none too happy with the results after building-up his expectations for months for the secret decoding ring. According to the Book of Luke, the Jewish people were waiting for the coming Messiah “filled with expectation”. They were excited and, like we do today, they were praying for the Messiah’s arrival into this world. When Jesus arrived, given the build-up of hundreds of years of expectations, many were a little “let-down” – some so “down” that they just couldn’t believe that Jesus was the actual Christ. They were expecting a “warrior” who would overtly vanquish Israel’s enemies and forever Bless the Jewish Nation. They weren’t expecting John the Baptist healing folks in the Jordan in a camel-hair outfit while eating bugs and “preparing the Way of the Lord”. The effect must have been something like waiting at Carnegie Hall for a world-class operetta-singer to take the stage and having the homeless guy that you just saw outside the hall come in and walk-up to the microphone. While God never Promised the Jews a Messiah like the one that they had imagined, He has Promised us all an Eternal Life in Him if we would just Believe and accept Jesus Christ in our hearts. We could never in our lifetimes “overestimate” our expectations for Heaven. Heaven is unimaginable – just talk with or hear the stories from anyone that’s ever been to Heaven and then come back to our world to describe it. With Faith like Children, we are to have Great Expectations when it comes to Heaven. God guarantees that we’ll be “Lifted-Up” and never be “let-down”.