As I rushed out the door Sabbath morning, I double-checked everything.
“Have you got your Bible?” I asked my 10-year-old daughter.
“Yes,” came the reply.
“Do we have all the water bottles?"
"Yes, Mum." This time it was my six-year-old who answered.
“What about the food for the luncheon?”
I checked that I had my handbag, Bible, and phone (containing music for Sabbath school, in case the teacher didn't come on time), as well as props fora lesson story (in case I needed to fill in). I quickly ran and grabbed a bag filled with Sabbath books for my two boys (because they had to be the best-behaved kids in church), then sighed with relief as I remembered that at least no one at the church knew I could play the piano.
As the Sabbath wore on and the kids and I wore out (Sabbath school, church, luncheon, signing at the elderly people's home), I got to thinking, How would Jesus cope with all this pressure? Everyone expects me to do the impossible, and to do it with a smile.
I looked into the idea of "What would Jesus do?" and here's what I came up:
1. Jesus dealt with expectations all the time! The Pharisees expected Him to follow their traditions and teachings. The Jews expected Him to set up His earthly kingdom right then and there. His mother and brothers expected Him to shift His attention to them because of their reaction to Him (Matthew 12:46). The disciples expected Him to ignore the Canaanite woman who was begging for help (Matthew 15:22-23).
2. Jesus didn’t always deal with the expectation by fulfilling it or by ignoring it. His primary goal was to obey the Father and to show His love.
Take the story of the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15. She was a heathen, and as such was not seen as worthy of attention by Jews. Yet Jesus had come to earth to reveal His Father's love for all people. After allowing the disciples to see Him react in the way they would (ignore her), He then contrasted that with heaven's way and showed her mercy, granting her request for her daughter's healing.
Then there's the time He was healing in Capernaum and the people begged Him to stay. He replied, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent” (Luke 4:43, NIV). He promptly left the region and carried on with His divine mission.
But the story that catches my attention most is when Peter was asked if Jesus would pay tax (Matthew 17:24-27). The collectors insinuated that Jesus was refusing to pay the Temple tax and denying His God-given duty by doing so. However, workers for the Temple, prophets, and certainly the Son of God Himself were exempt from such taxes.
Without consulting Jesus, though, Peter said that He would pay it. Jesus could have rebuked Peter and refused to pay the tax on the grounds that He was God almighty."
However, in The Desire of Ages, Ellen White explains: "While Jesus made it plain that He was under no obligation to pay the tribute, He entered into no controversy with the Jews in regard to the matter; for they would have have misinterpreted His words, and turned them against Him. Lest He should give offense by withholding the tribute, He did that which He could not justly be required to do. This lesson would be of great value to His disciples. Marked changes were soon to take place in their relation to the temple service, and Christ taught them not to place themselves needlessly in antagonism to established order. So far as possible, they were to avoid giving occasion for misinterpretation of their faith. While Christians are not to sacrifice one principle of truth, they should avoid controversy whenever it is possible to do so" (p. 434).
I have come to the conclusion that what Jesus wants us to do with expectations is:"
1. First follow what He has called us to do. We should not allow anything to get in the way of that. If we burn ourselves out meeting expectations of others and have no energy left to fulfill our higher calling, we are doing the ministry and ourselves a disservice.
2. Be humble and flexible. There will be times when expectations are not reasonable. But for the sake of avoiding controversy, and to possibly save souls by our loving attitude, we are not to stubbornly hold to our "rights" but rather serve in humility.
May God give us wisdom to discern the right response!