Life is full of the unexpected. Things happen that we never expected to happen. I think that happens quite often.
Let me give us some examples so we better understand what I mean. In 2004 the Boston Red Sox were down 3 – 0 in the playoff series against the Yankees for the American League title. It looked like the Red Sox didn’t have a chance to win. The odds were definitely not in their favor. The outcome was almost certain that the Yankees would win. They needed to win just one more game to take the series. Everyone expected the Yankees to win. But it didn’t happen that way. In an unexpected and unbelievable change of events the Boston Red Sox came back to win the series. They won four straight games to beat the Yankees. And they went on to win the World Series that year. What an unexpected change of events when it seemed the Red Sox were done.
When the Republican presidential primary kicked off earlier this year it looked like a typical conservative candidate would shine above the rest. It would be politics as usual. We should expect nothing extraordinary. But the unexpected happened. One of the more radical, outspoken, and political incorrect candidates has emerged as the leader over the rest. Again, not too many people ever expected that he had a chance at the Republican nomination.
In the 1980 Olympics the United States hockey team wasn’t expected to win. They faced a much tougher opponent: the Soviet Union. Complaints were made that the Soviets sent professional sportsmen to the Olympics. So our chances at winning were slim. But then something miraculous happened. The United States pulled out an upset victory. No one expected this because the US team was the underdog.
I think we would agree that life is full of the unexpected. Unexpected events happen all the time. Sometimes they are a pleasant surprise, and other times we wished they had never happened.
In our text Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples, reiterates an event that many people had never expected. They never thought that Jesus would be the one to save the Jewish nation and the world. He was beaten and condemned to death. In no way did the Jewish people want to identify with Jesus and accept Him as their king. They hoped that He would just go away and that His movement would die out.
A king was expected to bring pride to a nation, especially if he was a strong king. But Jesus brought disgrace upon the Jewish nation. The Jewish people were looking for a political savior, a strong man to make them a great nation in the eyes of the world. They weren’t looking for a king or a savior who would be the cause for laughter.
Why would God ever go about saving the world in the manner He did? It was so illogical and unexpected. That’s how God works. He always does the unexpected. In the case of salvation, who ever thought that Jesus, who was an ordinary looking guy, single and His dad was a carpenter, would be the centerpiece of God’s plan to save the world. It entered very few minds. But God did the unexpected by making Jesus our Savior. Peter says He was crucified and then rose from the dead. That is how God decided to save the world. Not with tanks and jet fighters and massive armies.
God takes what we would least expect and works it to His glory. Maybe that is a turn off for a lot of people. It’s not snazzy enough. God needs to wow us before He gets our attention. Well, that’s not how He works. Jesus didn’t come into our world with an entourage and a long motorcade. That’s what one would expect from the Savior of the world, but that’s not how He came. When He rode into Jerusalem it was on a donkey and not on a horse. Everybody expected a king to ride on a strong animal. God did the unexpected.
Peter is emphasizing the fact that God does unexpected things. In this case, He has made Jesus, whom the nation of Israel rejected, the Savior of the world.
This is hard for many people to accept in our day. Look at all the religions that reject Jesus. They find it hard to accept Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection as the centerpiece of God’s plan for salvation. They just don’t understand the concept that sin is a serious problem and that only God can make things right between Himself and us. This idea is completely overlooked by many religions. This unexpected teaching that Jesus died for our sins doesn’t register in the minds of their followers. But again, God does great things through the unexpected.
What about the unexpected things God does in our lives? If we really think about they work out for our good. We just have to look for the good. It’s there. Unfortunately, our initial reaction to unpleasant unexpected things is why does this have to happen? We fail to see the good that could possibly result.
We ought to respond to these unexpected things in our lives with a "I know this will be good for me." Our emotional and psychological health will be better if we do. Some people respond to unexpected events in hysteria. "Why did this have to happen? This ain’t the right time. This is too much for me." A better response would be "God is trying to teach me something here. How can I be a better child of God as a result of what is happening? Certainly God is allowing this to happen for my benefit."
It certainly takes some time and growth for this kind of attitude to develop. Accepting the unexpected from God takes time to become comfortable with. But the sooner we come to terms with how God works and operates, the more at peace we’ll be.
Just think how much more at peace the Jews would have been had they accepted the unexpected from God. But they were miserable, especially the leadership. I think some of them lost their minds. Who in their right mind would have had Jesus crucified? The Jewish leadership insisted that Jesus be killed. Why? Because they couldn’t deal with the unexpected. They were expecting their king and savior to come in power and glory and conquer their enemies. But that’s not what God had in mind at that time.
God was thinking of the greater good. He was thinking of their eternal salvation which was more important than procuring victory over their enemies.
God is thinking of our eternal salvation. And He uses the unexpected in our lives to get us focused on that. Our salvation is the most important thing in life; it’s the greater good.
I’m sure we’ve heard the expression "expect the unexpected." With God that certainly holds true. No one ever expected God to send His Son from heaven to die on a cross. But He did that for our salvation. And He continues to send the unexpected in our lives to cause us to reflect on the good in it which draws us closer to Him.
The Lord does unexpected things in our lives so that we don’t become complacent. If everything God did was predictable we’d fall asleep. But God wants to keep us on our toes in a spiritual sense. When we’re on our toes, we’re more alert which means we are better prepared for when He comes again.
I would encourage us to look for the good in the unexpected from God. It’s sad that the Jews missed out big time by rejecting Jesus. God’s plan just didn’t fit with their notions of how God should have saved the Jewish nation and the world. Let’s go along with God’s plan for us and not get all bent out of shape when He does something unexpected in our lives.