‘Great’ (or Conflicting) Expectations?
“…So, when Jesus arrived in Galilee, it was the Galileans who welcomed him, because they themselves had been at the feast of Cana and had seen all that he had done…That’s why Jesus returned to Cana…” John 4:45-46
“Jesus replied, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you won’t believe!” John 4:48
Homecomings can be filled with expectations, both by the one coming home and those awaiting the reunion. In fact, right here at Creighton University, we’re having many ‘homecomings’ of different varieties today as the student body is returning from Spring break for the final weeks of second semester. Some students return with stories of shared time and events with family. Creighton’s women and men basketball teams and support-ers will have many courtside events to ‘replay’. 115 CU students will bring back many memories of the places and people with whom they have shared this past week on their service trips. What, with whom, and how expectations are met (or not) depends on both the returnees and the people welcoming them back.
So, it isn’t too hard to imagine the anticipated joy and expectations
of the Galileans’ welcoming of Jesus as he returned to Galilee from Samaria.
In fact, John tells us: “That’s why Jesus returned to Cana in Galilee,
where he had turned the water into wine.”
(Jn.4:46) It seems that Jesus expects that he will be favorably received among the Galileans (and perhaps that they will be receptive to his message?) and purposefully makes his way back to them.
However, as Jesus enters Galilee, a royal official from Capernaum
meets Jesus with his own expectation and begs Jesus to come to heal his
very ill child. To the modern day reader (and perhaps to those present
that day), a very unexpected reply came from Jesus: “Unless you people
see signs and wonders, you won’t believe!” (Is Jesus putting down
anyone who seems to show faith in Jesus by asking for healing?) And
yet, a few moments later, following the official’s further pleadings, Jesus
seems to have a change of heart and responds to the official’s need - and
the child lives.
What is this all about?
There seems to be conflicting expectations in the midst of a ‘homecoming’. The encounter with the royal official is early in Jesus ministry. Jesus is beginning to live out his ministry of making God real in the midst of his world…and it is a very real world of people with their own needs, brokeness, insights, expectations, and readiness. The gospels are filled with stories of Jesus meeting people when and where he and they were in their own lives. At times Jesus met their expectations and needs; at other times, he challenged them to stretch their imaginations to meet him where he was on the journey to a new way of expecting God in their lives. It was not an either/or meeting of expectations as much as each better understanding and accepting of who and where the other was.
It is when Jesus and the individuals in his world each accepted where and who the other was at any given moment that a true encounter with God was made possible.
Perhaps this is what we are called to expect on our Lenten journeys: To be open to, accept and truly meet where and who one another is (just as God accepts each of us).
Who knows…maybe we’ll meet God in a new way as we allow others to meet us beyond our own expectations.