Joyce was beyond thrilled when she got the news that her son was finally going to be married. He’d been dating Judy for several years now, and Joyce had really grown to love her. Having had only sons, she had always fantasized about one day having a daughter-in-law, welcoming a girl into the family, and doing “girl things” with her. Joyce had prayed throughout her son’s life that he would marry a woman who would be like a daughter to her. Finally, they had gotten engaged, then married. Now, with the wedding almost a year behind them, Joyce still doesn’t have the friendship she’d hoped for with her daughter-in-law. Her son’s new wife doesn’t seem to have any interest in developing a relationship with her, and she is very disappointed. Because of Joyce’s bitter disappointment, a cold distance has settled in among them all. Not only did Joyce not gain the daughter she’d hoped for, it seems now she’s lost her son, too. Joyce is disappointed.
Judy never had much of a relationship with her mother. She wasn’t a very affectionate mom, and often seemed to disapprove of the things Judy did and the choices she’d made. Her mom passed away a couple of years ago, and after her engagement to her longtime boyfriend, she hoped to develop a mother-daughter relationship with his mom, Joyce. Before they were married, Joyce had been pleasant and accommodating. Since the wedding a year ago, though, Joyce has become more demanding of their time, popping in unexpectedly “just to say hello,” and staying way too long. She’s constantly texting Judy, asking for coffee dates and shopping outings, and Judy has begun to be irritated by the guilt trips Joyce tries to give her when she says no. In fact, she has begun ignoring Joyce’s texts and calls because she can’t keep up with the demand. Judy really wanted a mother figure in her life, but it is looking now like it will not be Joyce. Judy is disappointed.
Joyce and Judy are fictional characters, but maybe their stories are something like your own. Like them, you had high hopes that something you wanted would finally happen, and it didn’t work out the way you wanted. There are as many stories like Joyce and Judy as there are people, and they all have one thing in common: Expectations.
Let’s talk about Joyce. What did she expect? She expected her daughter-in-law to want what she wanted. She expected a relationship with her that she had imagined in her mind, but the feasibility of which she had never seriously considered. She wanted what she wanted, and when she didn’t get it, she was disappointed. While Joyce’s expectations and hopes are not necessarily unbiblical, they are still problematic, because they did not allow for the sovereignty of God. As Joyce hoped and prayed for her future daughter-in-law, she failed to allow for what God might want—or not want—their relationship to look like.
How about Judy? Having never had a good relationship with her mother, we can understand her hope for closeness with Joyce. During their dating years, her boyfriend’s mom seemed like the perfect candidate to fill the space her mother had left in her life. She expected that the relationship would continue—maybe even deepen—after they were married. She was shocked at the demands Joyce wanted to place on her time, and at the subtle manipulations that began happening after the wedding. Judy’s expectations were understandable, but she too left out the most important element of hope—Jesus Christ, and His will for our relationships. She expected something that she was not promised.
This is exactly what the people of Jesus’ day did. They based their expectation on what they wanted, not on what the Scriptures told them. They’d been told to expect a Savior, but in their minds, He was coming to save them from earthly trials, not their own sin.
As they heard these things, he proceeded to tell a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately. (Luke 19:11)
“They supposed.” On what did they base that presupposition? There were many messianic prophecies in the Old Testament, of which the Jews—especially the leaders—would have been fully aware. So, why did they think He would be an earthly king instead of a heavenly Savior? I am no great theologian, but it seems to me that their hearts deceived them. They didn’t want to think about the spiritual bondage of their sin, or their need to be freed from it. They were consumed with their temporal bondage to the government, and they wanted someone to free them from that. They were thinking of themselves, their circumstances, and their desires.
These are the same things that Joyce and Judy are thinking about: Themselves, their circumstances, and their desires. They are allowing what is happening in their lives—their circumstances—to inform their attitude, instead of informing their view of their circumstances on what God has and has not promised. So, what might Joyce and Judy’s relationship look like if they both had expectations that lined up with Scripture? We’ll talk about that next time, and we’ll look at some ways that Joyce and Judy can begin to build a relationship based on biblical expectations, for the glory of God.