By Matthew Landrum

Lenten Devotional for Monday, April 14

Read John 12:12-19

What do I look for from God? If I’m honest, the answer is often blessings and aid–job security or promotion, relationship growth or repair, delivery from inner turmoil and physical distress.

And there’s nothing wrong with lifting those things up. Jesus addressed such concerns when he calmed storms, turned water into wine, and healed the sick. But the mistake I make all too often is thinking only of earthly concerns while neglecting heavenly ones.

In today’s reading, we see the both the crowd making the same mistake. They are welcoming Jesus as a conquering king (which he was) who will set them free from oppression (which He did). But He did neither in the way the crowd expected.

Israel was waiting for a messiah. There were many claimants to the title in the decades before, during, and after Jesus’ life. These claimants were military leaders.

They wanted to gain independence from Rome, to shake off a government that had long subjugated the people of Israel. They led armed rebellions. This is what the people in the crowd were hoping for.

They wanted a messiah who would deliver them from the world and change their economic, governmental, and physical circumstances.

While Jesus cares about our jobs, finances, and government, His life, death, and resurrection weren’t for these things. His mission was to usher in the Kingdom of Heaven, not a kingdom of the earth.

He came to set us free from the shackles of sin, a far greater tyranny than that of King Herod or Caesar Augustus. The people of the crowd sought earthly solutions to earthly problems as we so often do. Their expectations were too low.

Jesus is king. He has set us free and secured our souls. It’s easy for me to forget that in the pressing demands of every day. Jesus acknowledges our worldly needs when He teaches us to pray, directing us to make petition for our daily bread.

But he mostly directs us to higher matters–His kingdom coming, His will being made manifest on earth, forgiveness for our sins, and deliverance from evil.

The crowd had great expectations of Jesus. But they weren’t great enough. In my Lenten practice this year, I will endeavor to seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, trusting that the rest will be given to me, to train my heart for greater expectations, not worldly kingdoms but heavenly realms.

We pray: Lord, help us to see Your kingdom and trust in Your will and knowledge. Help to see the greatest expectation of the new creation. 

Family discussion: People often look to God for tangible results. That’s fine but when we don’t look to Him for more, our expectations are too low! How can we raise our expectations? What petitions and praises can we include in our prayer life to raise our expectations and more fully engage with Jesus?

Object lesson: A computer or smart phone–this handy device you have before you makes a great paper weight. It really does! But if we only expected our computer or iPhone to do that function, our expectations would be too low. This device can connect us to the world and bring a wealth of information to our fingertips. Similarly we sometimes miss out on the full gift of Jesus and the triumph of His victory by overlooking his power and might and the full scale of what His life, death, and resurrection mean.