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By Jonathan Carmack

Expect the Unexpected ( The Easter Story)

Expect the Unexpected | | Hephatha Lutheran Church Anaheim Hills

      Easter is one of my favorite time’s of the year. The spring weather is a favorite of mine as it’s not to hot but not so cold where we have to stay in. You get to go outside and see the trees and flowers blooming and it is beautiful and in a spiritual since, it is the absolute pentacle of the Gospel. We as believers get to reflect on what scripture and the Gospel is all about. We look at the life of our savior Jesus Christ, the one who was promised as the interceder between us and God by prophets like Isaiah in the Old Testament and see God’s ultimate plan play out before our eyes.

Now I’m not quite sure who or where the saying expect the unexpected came from, but I will say the life of the promised son of God sure had a lot of unexpected events that happened in it from my perspective. Similar to our lives, and the life of a Christian we often find to be true that life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get. However, God did know what you were going to get, he knew that the messiah would come in the form of baby not to a king but to a carpenter his virgin wife Mary. He knew that his Son would live a perfect life and grow and be burdened with the same every day heartaches that we face. He knew that when he started his ministry he would do miraculous things and people would follow him and he knew that those same people would betray him and he would be arrested and ultimately crucified on the cross. He knew that he would endure that pain for you and I, and he ultimately knew that in the climax of the Gospel and the hope that Jesus Christ brings to the world, he would raise from the grave in a way to declare to the world that death had lost its sting and that through Jesus Christ we have the truth, the life, and the way to follow for eternity.

It gives me chill bumps just thinking about it, but it also helps me realize that God exceeded my expectations in every way. My whole life I could explain this simple but very important truth but the aha moment when the light bulb went off was in College. Many of you know that I was a preacher’s kid and those back home who grew up with me know that I was far from perfect but also far from a wild child. I did what I was told and was always taught to be respectful. What you may not know is that I never wanted to go into the ministry, let alone be a pastor. I had seen the way the world treated pastors through my dad and I wanted no part of it. No, I had bigger dreams, bigger expectations, first I wanted to be the next Michael Jordan then I realized that I couldn’t jump then I wanted to be the next Randy Johnson but then I realized I couldn’t throw that hard, then I wanted to be the next Pet Sampras but soon realized that I waited too long to play tennis. In reality what I wanted was glory, I wanted to be famous regardless if it was from sports, music or acting, I wanted that. See, my expectation was through that popularity, I would be wealthy, famous and loved. That was happiness to me.

Unfortunately, When College came around and I set out on that journey of fame I found that God had a different plan for my life, but when he called me to the ministry I basically rejected that plan. Funny thing is, that wasn’t the end of the story.  I started college with a boom, when my first girlfriend broke up with me and then I went into a depression where I was a shell of myself and questioned everything. I never felt so alone in my life, but looking back now I see I was never alone. Long story short, there was a revival that I went to and that night I surrendered to the ministry and the rest is history. There were moments of doubt where I questioned if this was my path but a moment in Kaskaskia Illinois when the Holy Spirit took a hold of me as He led me to lead a young girl to Christ, the unexpected had occurred.

My idea and plan for my life that would bring me so much happiness failed in comparison to what God plan for my life would bring. Which brings me to my central theme for today’s message in anticipation of Easter, Let go of your expectations and wait for God to exceed them. Stop asking God to meet your expectation of what you want or who you think he is and be still and see God go far beyond what you could have ever imagined.

Every Easter I am reminded that God has done this from the beginning of time, he has exceeded man’s expectation and in the story of our savior Jesus Christ he shows us the path that we must choose to follow. In Zachariah 9:9, it was foretold that the Messiah, would come riding on a lowly donkey in Jerusalem.

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
    Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
    righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
    on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Think about this for around 500 years God’s people waited for this messiah, they waited for the coming of the one who would be victorious for them. You can imagine they probably had predicted some giant, or ruler but instead God sent not the Messiah we expected but the Messiah we all needed.

Read with me, this glorious moment that Zachariah foretold  in Matthew 21.

21 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”

This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

“Say to Daughter Zion,
    ‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
    and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”[a]

The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,

“Hosanna[b] to the Son of David!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”[c]

“Hosanna[d] in the highest heaven!”

10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”

11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”


Now I want you to picture this, the expectation that people had for Jesus left many speechless when this picture formed of Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth. Not only that, but shortly after, he went into the temples where they were buying and selling and turned the tables and drove them out proclaiming His House is the house of prayer.

As we know throughout scripture while some were drawn to Jesus, many including the religious community rejected him. Their hearts were hardened by their pride and expectation of what they thought the messiah would be. Instead of opening their eyes to see the true messiah in front of them.

In the same way church there are so many who grow up in the church and know the scripture, yet never experience the Holy Spirit in the form of relationship with Jesus Christ. Why? Because it would mean to submit to a God that we know exists and seek his way instead of our own.

I know many of us didn’t expect to be in this particular Corona Virus situation that we are in, like many of you didn’t expect your loved one to get sick or pass away, or for some to lose your job, or your husband or wife leave you. There are heartaches that will hit everyone, they are different, and some hit at different times while others all hit at one. But just because there are unexpected trials and heartaches in your life, doesn’t mean that God doesn’t care and it doesn’t mean that you are on your own. Perhaps you just need to be still and see God’s plan work out before your eyes. Instead of cursing God because it doesn’t go the way you want or expected, have the faith to trust that it will work together for the good of the Lord. Be like Job when he was asking that question to his friends who were not receptive and accused him of being wicked, but Job kept asking why God would allow these bad things to happen to good people, or why some prayers go unanswered? Yet in the midst of his misery he still declared in Job 19:25

I know that my redeemer[c] lives,
and that in the end he will stand on the earth.

He did stand on the earth and that is where our hope comes from. I’m sure many of you wouldn’t have expected Jesus to be the Messiah riding on the donkey as the kind who was promised. Just like you probably didn’t expect one of his 12 closest friends to betray him. You probably didn’t expect that he would be arrested and those same people who wondered in awe who this man was and the miracles he performed would call out to kill him. You probably didn’t expect him to die on the cross next to the wicked.

But that is what makes Easter and the story of Jesus full of so much hope. Because life is unexpected, heartache and trials unfair, but there is hope in every story and every season because the story didn’t end at the cross. The story had the most unexpected ending in the history of man when Jesus raised from the dead, and showed the world that God’s answers don’t always come in the way we expect them to but they are always better.

Not only did the Father send us a king in his Son Jesus Christ, we have a savior who experienced the pain and suffering that many of you have faced, that can relate with what you are going through. He sent us not only a champion of Earth but of the grave, death no longer is something we should fear as it only leads to being reunited with the Father.

I don’t know where you are or what you are going through, but as the body of Christ now is the time to declare God’s truth, to share the hope that comes in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It may be raining right now in your life and you may feel more alone than you ever have, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth because we serve a God who is alive and is with us in every season. Trust in him and be still and see him move in ways that you could have never imagined.

Happy Easter