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Redeemer Bible Church
Unreserved Accountability to Christ. Undeserved Acceptance from Christ.
Expecting a Savior Selected Scriptures Introduction As you know, next Sunday is Christmas Eve. And if you’re anything like me, you find that Christmas tends to sneak up on you. Oh, I don’t mean (necessarily) that your lights and tree and shopping sneak up on you, but that the central reality of Christmas, the reason why we celebrate Christmas in the first place—that’s what tends to sneak up on you. We’ve been doing all our preparations for our family and our food, but we typically do little preparation of our hearts to celebrate Christmas together as God’s people, rejoicing in the Lord that he sent his son to be the savior of the world. We even do this with our preaching schedule. Typically, each Sunday before Christmas is the next installment of whatever sermon series we’re in. Then, all of the sudden, Christmas Eve comes and we hear one message about the birth of Christ. Well, this year I’d like to help to remedy that for all of us. So this morning, my prayer is that the message will help to prepare us to celebrate Christmas by reflecting together on some of the implications of the advent. Let me begin by saying that God’s people were expecting a savior…and expecting a savior in two senses. The first is that the condition of the world and of their own souls demanded that they say to themselves, “Life is wrong. The world is broken and so am I. Surely, this can’t be all there is.” So the first sense in which the people were expecting a savior is in the sense that they knew things had to change. Their world was sick and they were expecting, hoping against hope for a remedy. They hoped to be rescued from a world gone wrong and their own guilty conscience. The second sense in which God’s people were expecting a savior, the sense that dominates the teaching of Scripture, is the sense of looking forward to the fulfillment of a promise. The people of God expected a savior because the Lord promised them one. But don’t misunderstand. These two forms of expectation—the expectation of hope for rescue from sin and the expectation of the fulfillment of God’s promise—should not be construed as discrete categories, totally separate from one another. They are
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intertwined in the tapestry of God’s action in history. In fact, we might even say that the reason God made the promise to send a savior was that his people might be rescued, or saved from sin. Expecting a Savior Turn with me in your Bibles to Matthew 1:18-23.
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. 19 And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. 20 But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 "She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." 22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23 "BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL," which translated means, "GOD WITH US."
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Notice, first of all, verse 21.
"She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins."
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An angel of the Lord explains to Joseph in a dream that the Virgin Mary will bear a Son; and that Joseph shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. There is the first element of expectation—salvation from sins. But as verses 22-23 make clear, the realization of the hope of being rescued from sin is rooted in God’s promise to provide a deliverer for his people. Look at them again with me.
Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23 "BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL," which translated means, "GOD WITH US.”
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All this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet. All what? All this, that Mary, while still a virgin, would conceive by the Holy Spirit and bear a son to save the people from their sins—all this took place in fulfillment of what the Lord spoke through the prophet Isaiah—verse 23: BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL, which translated means, GOD WITH US. So there you have the second element of this expectation—God promised through his prophets that a deliverer would come through a virgin, Jesus of Nazareth, to rescue his people from their sins. Clearly, then, we should not think of the expectation of hope for deliverance from sin and of the expectation of God making good on his

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promise of a savior as separate categories. Instead, we should see them as they are— as gloriously intertwined threads in the tapestry of salvation history. So then, the people of God were expecting a savior; they looked forward with eager expectation to the time when, according to God’s promise, they would be liberated from the tyranny of sin. Now, understand that when I speak about the liberation from sin, I do not only mean liberation from personal sin, as in my own sin, but also liberation from the sins of others, liberation from being sinned against. And in the case of God’s people, that meant liberation from unjust oppression by foreign powers. This is another element of the salvation that God promised to accomplish for his people. Turn with me in your Bibles to Luke 1:67-79.
And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying: "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people, 69 And has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of David His servant-- 70 As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old-- 71 Salvation FROM OUR ENEMIES, And FROM THE HAND OF ALL WHO HATE US; 72 To show mercy toward our fathers, and to remember His holy covenant, 73 The oath which He swore to Abraham our father, 74 To grant us that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, 75 In holiness and righteousness before Him all our days. 76 "And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; For you will go on BEFORE THE LORD TO PREPARE HIS WAYS; 77 To give to His people the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins, 78 Because of the tender mercy of our God, with which the Sunrise from on high will visit us, 79 TO SHINE UPON THOSE WHO SIT IN DARKNESS AND THE SHADOW OF DEATH, To guide our feet into the way of peace."
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First of all, let me point out to you what we’ve already seen in Matthew 1; namely, that the coming of God’s salvation involves the forgiveness of my sins. John the Baptist’s mission would be to give the people the knowledge of this salvation. Notice verses 76-78a: And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; For you will go on BEFORE THE LORD TO PREPARE HIS WAYS; To give to His people the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, with which the Sunrise from on high will visit us. You can see here that the knowledge of God’s salvation comes by the forgiveness of sin. Salvation is salvation from my sin by the Lord’s forgiveness. And being rescued from my own sin is part of God’s promise. But this prophecy from John the Baptist’s father, Zacharias, speaks of more than rescue from my own sins; it speaks very straightforwardly of rescue from being sinned against. Look again at Luke 68-75.
"Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people, 69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of David His servant-- 70 As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old-- 71
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Salvation FROM OUR ENEMIES, and FROM THE HAND OF ALL WHO HATE US; 72 To show mercy toward our fathers, and to remember His holy covenant, 73 The oath which He swore to Abraham our father, 74 To grant us that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, 75 in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days.

The horn of salvation in the house of David refers to God’s messiah, the promised anointed one with Davidic ancestry who would bring in salvation for God’s people. You can see very clearly that this salvation (along with salvation from my own sin) would also entail salvation from the people’s enemies, salvation from the hand of all who hate them, rescue from the hand of all Israel’s enemies. And it seems that the fulfillment of this promise couldn’t have come at a better time. The Romans were in charge, and they held no love for the Israelites. Israel was one of many peoples that lived under Roman rule. And although this rule was by and large a good thing for the whole Mediterranean world (you’ve heard of the pax romana), it did not represent the ideal for the people of God. They were the subjects of a foreign power rather than the rulers of the earth as the Lord had promised. Israel’s expectation, based on their inspired writings, was that the rule of all the earth would be mediated through Jerusalem by God’s anointed, regal ambassador. Zacharias is saying that because of the birth of his son, John the Baptist, this rule was about to begin. Can you imagine what it would have been like to have heard Zacharias’ prophecy—to have been there? It’s like—it’s like better than Christmas morning for a child. I remember very distinctly the feeling in my stomach as I went to bed on Christmas Eve. I was so excited I could hardly sleep. And once I did finally fall asleep, I ended up waking up early, while it was still dark. I knew that I couldn’t open the presents till my parents got up, but I just had to go out to the living room to see the gifts under the tree. And as I peered around the corner, coming from my bedroom, the tree with its lights and the presents filled my view. Christmas had come and I couldn’t wait to see what my parents had brought me. Well, when it comes to Israel’s expectation of a savior, my childhood anticipation for Christmas morning is trivial in comparison. God’s promised liberation—from my own sin and from being sinned against— God’s promised rescue was about to be fulfilled. What was once only a dream was about to become reality—a reality of exceeding joy. Turn ahead in Luke to Chapter 2 and read verses 8-11 with me.
In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. 10
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But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Verses 10 and 11 reflect the joy of the situation. Look again at them: But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” It is good news that brings great joy which is to be for all the people—a savior has been born in the city of David—the anointed Lord Christ. And why is it good news of great joy? For precisely the reasons we’ve seen. The birth of a savior means that sin has been overcome—the forgiveness of personal sins and the overthrow of foreign oppression. But there’s another reason why this announcement should and would be met with such joy, and why a comparison with Christmas morning for a child is a puny reflection of Israel’s anticipation—a reason having to do with time. Here’s what I mean. By the time of the angel’s announcement in Matthew 1 and Zacharias’ prophecy and the angel’s announcement in Luke 2, many, many years have transpired since God first promised that he would bring about salvation for his people. And I’m not talking even 50 or 100 or 200 years. I’m not even talking 1,000 years. I am talking about even longer than that. Now while it is impossible to reckon exactly how long the people waited, what we do know is that they had been waiting since man’s fall into sin; for it was just after humanity plunged itself into the misery of sin that God promised to restore man from the condition into which he had fallen. Turn with me in your Bibles back to Genesis 3:1-19, and let’s read of humanity’s fall into sin.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, "Indeed, has God said, 'You shall not eat from any tree of the garden'?" 2 The woman said to the serpent, "From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; 3 but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.'" 4 The serpent said to the woman, "You surely will not die! 5 "For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." 6 When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. 8 They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, "Where are you?" 10 He said, "I heard the sound
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of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself." 11 And He said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?" 12 The man said, "The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate." 13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" And the woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate." 14 The LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you will go, And dust you will eat All the days of your life; 15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel." 16 To the woman He said, "I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you." 17 Then to Adam He said, "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, 'You shall not eat from it'; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it All the days of your life. 18 "Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; And you will eat the plants of the field; 19 By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return."

The picture is very bleak. Humankind has disobeyed God; rejected his commandment and his authority to rule over it. God responds by cursing all the guilty parties. Nevertheless, within the pronouncement of judgment for sin, there is a promise, a wonderful promise that demonstrates God’s great kindness and desire not to leave mankind in the condition into which had fallen. It’s found in verse 15. Read it again with me.
And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel."
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To the serpent, the embodiment of the devil, God says that he will put enmity between him and the woman, between the serpent’s seed and her seed. That enmity is described at the end of the verse: He (the seed of the woman) shall bruise you (the serpent) on the head, and you (the serpent) shall bruise him (the seed of the woman) on the heel. To be bruised on the head is to be dealt a decisive and final blow; to be bruised on the heel is to be dealt a real, but nevertheless impermanent and superficial blow. So God says that the woman’s offspring (a member of the human family) would deal a decisive and final blow to the serpent, the one who tempted humanity to sin, while the serpent, in a kind of fit of retaliation, in a sort of last-ditch effort to exert his authority, would attempt to destroy the woman’s special offspring only to come up short—a blow to the heel is all he’d ultimately accomplish.1 So here’s the first promise of salvation, sometimes called the protoevangelium, the first gospel, the first announcement of the good news of great joy which would be for
For a helpful defense of the protoevangelium see Sidney Greidanus, Preaching Christ from the Old Testament (Eerdmans, 1999), 245-48.
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all the people—the announcement of a coming savior who would deliver his people from sin and all the effects of the fall. So then, by the time God’s people experience the fulfillment of this promise, they had been waiting a long, long time. How early can we date God’s word to the serpent? It’s impossible to tell. What I can say is that Genesis was probably written perhaps as early as 1450 BC and that the oral preservation of the curse had been around since the beginning. The point is that God’s people were waiting for what could have—and, I think—must have seemed an interminably long time. Now don’t get me wrong. God didn’t simply promise a savior at the time of the fall and then keep his mouth shut until the events recorded by Matthew and Luke. All throughout Scripture, the promise of Gen 3:15 would be reiterated and expanded to demonstrate that God hadn’t forgotten what he promised to do. 1. My point is simply that the length of the wait would make the coming of the fulfillment just that much more thrilling. 2. The month or so from Thanksgiving till Christmas pales in comparison. 3. God’s people were expecting a savior from the beginning, for thousands of years, and now, finally, their wait was over. Jesus would be that savior. He is the one who would liberate them from their own sins as well as the oppression of their enemies. Jesus is the one who would set his people free. What a gift! Not Expecting Jesus But there is a problem with Jesus being Israel’s savior, and it’s this: Jesus being Israel’s savior. You see, the people were expecting a savior, they just weren’t expecting Jesus. Jesus just didn’t fit their expectations. Even a superficial reading of the gospels makes this plain. And as you read, you’ll find that it was not only Jesus’ enemies that found Jesus coming up short, but even his own disciples. Jesus challenged any Jew’s understanding of the advent of the Messiah. Let me give you three examples of the misunderstanding caused by Jesus’ radical ministry. 1. The first is Jesus’ relationship to the Law of Moses. Turn with me in your Bibles to Mark 1:40-44.
And a leper came to Jesus, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying, "If You are willing, You can make me clean." 41 Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, "I am willing; be cleansed." 42 Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed. 43 And He sternly warned him and immediately sent him away, 44 and He said to him, "See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them."
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Notice, first of all in verse 41, it says, Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched the leprous man. Now this is amazing in itself, since Leviticus 5 forbids men from touching lepers.2 Jesus, therefore, seems to play fast and loose with the Mosaic Law. Jesus touches the leper, and rather than becoming unclean by the touch, he makes the leper clean. On the other hand, there’s verse 44. Look at it again: And He said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” Here, on the authority of Leviticus 14, Jesus tells the man that he’s healed to show himself to the priest and offer for his cleansing what Moses commanded. So here Jesus seems to be taking Moses seriously. So how are we to understand Jesus in relation to the Law of Moses? Well, on the one hand, he seems to be lax about it; and on the other, he seems to be strict about it. The point is that he can’t be pinned down with respect to the Mosaic Law. And because he can’t be pinned down, his supposed status as Israel’s Messiah is in question. What kind of Israeli king—if he is supposed to bring in everlasting righteousness—what kind of king of Israel would be so slippery on the Torah? So the first item that called into question Jesus’ status as the Messiah was his relation to the Law. 2. The second thing that caused people to stumble over Jesus’ position as the deliverer of Israel was his claim to deity. Turn to John 8:31-58.
So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, "If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." 33 They answered Him, "We are Abraham's descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, 'You will become free'?" 34 Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. 35 "The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. 36 "So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. 37 "I know that you are Abraham's descendants; yet you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. 38 "I speak the things which I have seen with My Father; therefore you also do the things which you heard from your father." 39 They answered and said to Him, "Abraham is our father." Jesus said to them, "If you are Abraham's children, do the deeds of Abraham. 40 "But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do. 41 "You are doing the deeds of your father." They said to Him, "We were not born of fornication; we have one Father: God." 42 Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me. 43 "Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. 44 "You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own
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See Lev 5:2, 6.

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nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 "But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me. 46 "Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me? 47 "He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God." 48 The Jews answered and said to Him, "Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?" 49 Jesus answered, "I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me. 50 "But I do not seek My glory; there is One who seeks and judges. 51 "Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he will never see death." 52 The Jews said to Him, "Now we know that You have a demon. Abraham died, and the prophets also; and You say, 'If anyone keeps My word, he will never taste of death.' 53 "Surely You are not greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets died too; whom do You make Yourself out to be?" 54 Jesus answered, "If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say, 'He is our God'; 55 and you have not come to know Him, but I know Him; and if I say that I do not know Him, I will be a liar like you, but I do know Him and keep His word. 56 "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad." 57 So the Jews said to Him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?" 58 Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am."

The climax of this dispute between Jesus and the Jewish leadership comes in verse 58. Check it out: Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am." You can see that Jesus does not say, “Before Abraham was born, I existed,” though that would have been radical enough, giving priority to himself over Abraham. But he says something even more provocative. He says, “Before Abraham was born, I am”. In other words, he takes to himself the divine name. Exodus 3:14 says, “God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM’; and He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, I AM has sent me to you.”’” What kind of Messiah is a blasphemer? So the second aspect of Jesus’ life and ministry that raise doubts about his Messianic status was his claim to deity. 3. The third element of Jesus’ life and ministry that caused people to question his claim to David’s throne was his rejection by his own people to face the shame of an accursed death on the cross. Turn to Mark 8:27-33.
Jesus went out, along with His disciples, to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way He questioned His disciples, saying to them, "Who do people say that I am?" 28 They told Him, saying, "John the Baptist; and others say Elijah; but others, one of the prophets." 29 And He continued by questioning them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered and said to Him, "You are the Christ." 30 And He warned them to tell no one about Him. 31 And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And He was stating the matter plainly. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. 33 But turning around and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter and said, "Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's."
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In verse 29 we read Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, God’s anointed king. But then in verse 31 Jesus explains what his ascension to the throne would entail. Look at it again with me: And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. Peter’s response to this is given in the second half of verse 32: Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. Now we all may be tempted to chuckle at Peter’s naïveté, but we would be way off base. Peter was not stupid or foolish. Peter’s confession that Jesus was the Christ simply did not allow for something as over the top as what Jesus describes in verse 31. It simply could not be that Jesus literally was referring to his impending death. The Messiah cannot die, especially not at the hands of the religious leaders. This is what the Hebrew Scriptures seem to teach as we read in Daniel 7:13-14:
I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations and men of every language Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed (Daniel 7:13-14).

How can it be that the Son of Man—whom Jesus clearly identifies with Messiah—how can it be that he would suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and the scribes and be killed? Impossible! You see, the problem is that Peter (and the other disciples) failed to understand because they were expecting a Messiah quite different from the one the Lord sent. Of course, this is not to say that they were innocent in the matter, as if they simply made a mistake. Their problem was their failure to believe; instead of trusting in God, they were trusting in their “intelligent” reading of the Old Testament, their preconceived notions of what Messiah ought to be. Oh, it is true that God’s people expected a deliverer from Zion, a Messiah to rescue them and subdue their enemies; it’s just that they weren’t expecting Jesus. 1. Initially, especially for his disciples this was seen as a major disappointment, a huge let-down. 2. But following the resurrection and ascension and outpouring of the Spirit, the disciples learned what we seem to know almost unconsciously that Jesus is the Messiah. 3. Jesus shatters all expectations to replace them with the real thing—something more spectacular than they could ever have imagined.

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The deliverance that they were expecting had come; it just came differently (and better) than they had expected. But because it came differently than they had expected, they were initially confused and depressed at what had happened. Well, what I want you to take away from the people’s experience with respect to Jesus is that it was their expectations that determined their responses to him. And really, this is the nature of life itself—expectations determine response. Expectations for Life We live for what we hope for. We all get out of bed every day with a reason for living. Think about Dan. For his entire life, since he was a little boy, he dreamed of becoming an architect. His blocks and then Lego’s were just the beginning of a life of architecture. He went to college, and while there he pursued his dream—and was good at it. His professors singled him out as a genuine talent and he was often praised for his abilities. Then he landed THE job—the job of jobs with the architecture firm of his dreams, the one that designed some of his favorite buildings in the whole city. He began small, at the lower tier, designing strip malls and health clubs. Unfortunately, however, this was all he’d ever design. Despite his youthful talents, he never moved up in the firm, discovering that politics and not creativity were the driving force in the architectural world. As he progressed, he found himself depressed, discouraged, easily irritated with his family and friends, and feeling hopelessly trapped by a life that was supposed to have been a dream. Every day you get up, you live for something, you expect something out of life. And your expectation affects all your behavior. What you hope for determines how you live. That’s why, when God saves us through Christ, he gives us a new hope. He alters our hearts to fit with the real reason why we get out of bed in the morning—to glorify God and to enjoy him forever. Titus 2:11-14 says,
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, 12 instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, 14 who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.
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Our hope is no longer in our career, our parenting, our money, our success—our hope is in the Lord Jesus Christ. And because our hope is in our great God and savior, Christ Jesus, our life has changed. We are a people who are zealous, passionate for good deeds. Our hope changes our passion and our passion propels our behavior. We are now full of genuine hope and therefore zealous for good deeds. But then, even when what we live for is principally changed by our Christian conversion, our expectations still play the definitive role in the quality of the Christian life

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we lead. It’s not just unbelieving Dan who lives life by what he expects from it; it’s believing Dan as well. Often the difference is that believing Dan’s expectations are oriented toward what he expects from Christ now that he is a Christian. Expectations from Christ So the question is this, Now that I’m a Christian, what do I expect from Christ? What do I want Jesus to do for me? The first advent tells us that Jesus is the answer to all of life’s problems—the problem of personal sin and the problem of oppression (being sinned against), but how do I expect Jesus to answer these issues? For example, if I am being oppressed by a demanding and difficult boss, what do I expect Jesus to do for me? If I expect him to transfer my boss or give me another job or promote me to a position of authority over him, then I will most likely end up disappointed and even angry at Christ for letting me down. Oh, I might not say that I’m angry with the Lord, but the irritation I express every day, how withdrawn and short I’ve become with those closest to me, betrays what’s really going on in my heart. So we need to change our expectation to fit with Jesus’ agenda for us. Rather than ending the oppression, Jesus may instead give me grace to deal with a difficult manager in ways that honor him. I will see my liberation in the command of 1 Peter 2:18, which says, “Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable.” Being able to have an attitude of submission to those in authority over me, even those who are unreasonable, is my deliverance. Though the Lord did not rescue me from my situation, he can and does rescue me from myself while in the midst of my situation. Or what if I am finding myself on what we could call “the treadmill of sinful behavior”—I keep doing the same thing that I don’t want to do over and over and over again. Well, the first advent teaches us that Jesus is the answer to treadmill spirituality, too. But what will that look like? Well, I think that most of the time we think of victory over our personal sin struggles as Jesus removing them. “When is the Lord going to take this away? When is it finally going to be over?” We tend to think of salvation from our personal sins as taking place in a climactic moment of radical transformation. Therefore we expect Jesus to remove struggles from us once-and-for-all. But is this what Jesus promises? Is this the nature of Christian change, of sanctification? Not at all. Jesus saves us from personal sins through a process called repentance. Moment by moment I learn to say no to that stubborn sin and yes to righteousness by the power of the Holy Spirit. The more I’m repenting, the more I’m triumphing over the sins that so easily entangle me. I remember talking with a guy who was once a drug addict and drunkard. He had recently become a Christian and would find himself still falling into the trap of alcohol

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© 2006 by R W Glenn

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and drugs. He’d tell me what a loser he was, how bad he felt, and how angry he was that his struggle wasn’t already taken care of. I then asked him a question:
“Before you were a Christian how often were you drunk or high?” “Every day,” he said. “Every day, huh?” “Yeah, every day.” “Now let me ask you this: when was the last time you were drunk or high?” “About a month ago.” “A month ago?” “Yeah, a month ago. What are you getting at?” “Well, it seems to me that putting together 30 days of sobriety with one day of inebriation is a pretty good record—it’s like going 30 for 31.”

You see it’s all a matter of expectation. What do I expect Christ to do for me when it comes to my personal sin struggles? Do I expect him to eliminate them with a kind of cosmic broom, sweeping them all away in a matter of a moment? Or do I expect that Jesus will eliminate sin in my life through my progressive sanctification—a process of becoming more and more Christlike in my attitudes and actions. Christ is rescuing me from my personal sins, but it’s not until he returns that I will be finally and completely rescued from them. In the meantime, I am nevertheless being rescued from them, moving forward as I approach the day of Christ Jesus. As the Apostle Paul has said, “I am confident of this very thing, that he who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). He perfects his work in us until the day of Christ Jesus, which clearly implies a process of perfecting that begins with our justification, continues through our sanctification, and culminates in our glorification. Conclusion Yes, Jesus is still the savior—the one who saves me from others’ sins against me and from my own personal struggle with sin, but how he does it and when he does it I may not be able to anticipate. Instead I have to live by faith. I have to live trusting that Jesus can and will rescue me according to his perfect wisdom and grace. The gift of salvation is ours through Jesus Christ. We need to alter our expectations to fit the gift; not alter the gift to fit our expectations. We see the gift wrapped and under the tree and it has the shape and feel and sound of what we want, but then when we open it, it is something that we had not anticipated and perhaps even did not want. Nevertheless, because Jesus is that gift and is our savior we can know that what he gives us (how he saves us) is better than how we might imagine saving ourselves. We live at a time when the expectations of God’s people for salvation have come to fulfillment in Jesus Christ. We live after Christmas Day. We don’t have to look forward to the future with a vague sense of what God’s gift will be. We don’t need to

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pick up the present and try to guess what it is. We know exactly what it is. With the eyes of faith, we have seen our Lord. And because he has saved us we have also experienced and continue to experience the promised salvation that he brought. So let us use our expectation for the Christmas holiday as an opportunity to consider our expectations. What do we expect from Jesus? And rather than fall into the sin of moving away from a Christ who does not meet our expectations, let’s change our expectation to fit with the gift we’ve already been given. Amen.

Redeemer Bible Church 16205 Highway 7 Minnetonka, MN 55345 Office: 952.935.2425 Fax: 952.938.8299 info@redeemerbiblechurch.com www.redeemerbiblechurch.com www.solidfoodmedia.com

Expecting a Savior

© 2006 by R W Glenn

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