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Tales of the Unexpected

20 April 2022

Tales of the Unexpected


Since sharing in the Palm Sunday Service together, the ‘unexpected’ nature, character, and behaviour of Jesus has been on my mind.

I imagined being one of the crowd, walking and leaping and praising God as we entered Jerusalem together.  We followed Jesus into the Temple and then stood in awe as He drove out those trading there.  He shouted, “My Father’s House shall be called a House of Prayer for All Nations.”  Surely this was the coming of the Messiah who would drive out our enemies and deliver us from our oppressors?


What happened next was... unexpected.


Jesus looked around and walked out of the city.  The crowd would have dispersed confused.


Have you ever been confused about Who Jesus is?


Have you ever wondered about God’s activity in your life?


One of my favourite songs is from, “Jesus Christ Superstar.”  I’m certain the theology of the musical is the theology of entertainment rather than of faith but there are moments of deep insight.  The song I have in mind is, “Could We Start Again Please?”


In it, Mary sings, “This was unexpected.  What do I do now?  Could we start again, please?”


This is a theme I have returned to time and time again in my journey of faith.  God is not quite Who I expected Him to be, and His activity is definitely not what I expected.


In a very strange way, this brings us much hope.  With the benefit of hindsight that we get from reading Jesus’ own story, we discover that whilst He wasn’t what they expected, He turned out to be so much more.  He is so much greater than all we could ask or imagine.


With the world and members of our own family in need of prayer, we do well to remember that God is so much bigger than we expect.  God has a plan beyond our understanding.  And God has all the resources He needs to bring His plan to fruition.  God also has the benefit of seeing the bigger picture with all the details that we may have missed.


I find this particularly comforting when considering the problem of suffering.  Wandering into a local store recently, one of the team confided that he’d just lost his sister – and her in her fifties.  “What’s that all about?” he said.


It was one of those ‘unexpected’ moments.  I’d gone in to get milk!  What came out of my mouth is that we are all part of a very complex (eco)system, where all of us plays a part and has a part to play.  What we do impacts everyone we are connected to.  We don't know the whole story.


Why God allows suffering is always going to be a question where I suspect the full answer will turn out to be very unexpected.  What I do understand is that few of us like to be controlled – or told what to do.  If God were to intervene to the fullest extent, we would lose our freedom, and ‘freedom’, I suspect, is what most of us value above all other matters in life.  With freedom comes trouble – but freedom with consequences is better than no freedom at all.


God has given us freedom.  God has given us free will.  God has given us a role to play in how life unfolds.  And God is so beyond our understanding that He is often unexpected!


This is why we have faith, one another, and prayer!







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