Dealing with Anticipointment

Sermon from Matthew 11

I heard a new word recently, and I feel like it applies perfectly to this Scripture passage: anticipointment. It’s when you build up anticipation to something so much, and then it turns out to be not that big of a deal. Anticipation + disappointment = anticipointment.

This may be what John the Baptist was feeling when he was in prison, wondering if Jesus really was the Messiah they had anticipated so eagerly. When God spoke through His prophets, the prophets didn’t know how those prophecies would be fulfilled, and maybe sometimes the fulfillment didn’t look like the way they had pictured. This seems to be the case with John, who sent some messengers to Jesus asking, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”

Jesus replied with prophecies from Isaiah that He had fulfilled: “the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me” (Matthew 11:5-6).

John, and many of the Jews of that time, was expecting a conquering king who would defeat the oppressors and put everything to rights in an instant. But that is not the kind of Messiah that Jesus was. Jesus was indeed bringing freedom from oppression, but not political oppression. Jesus brought freedom from sin, sickness, and death.

This was a challenge for God’s people to accept, but in the following paragraphs of this chapter, Jesus proclaims woe upon those people who had the Messiah working miracles right in front of their very eyes and refused to accept Him. On the other hand, “Blessed is the one who is not offended by me” (Matthew 11:6).

We have to learn how to submit to God’s agenda, especially when it doesn’t match up with our own. Approaching God’s Kingdom with our own agendas will not go well for us. We must not attempt to make Jesus conform to our image, but rather change our image to match His whenever they don’t align.

Our assumptions and preconceived notions must fall before we can achieve true understanding and be on board with God’s perfect agenda. You can’t rush God, and you can’t make God do what you want Him to do. Have patience and allow Him to direct. Let go of things that don’t happen the way you wanted them to, rather than getting upset and grumbling.

In Experiencing God, Henry Blackaby introduced the idea that rather than asking God to bless our own pursuits and agendas, we should look to see where God is working and join Him there. This is life-changing for our own hearts and attitudes.

When John was questioning Jesus, Jesus encouraged him that God was indeed bringing about the fulfillment of His prophecies, just in a way that John didn’t expect. Shift your heart to accept what God IS doing, rather than what you had expected him to do. Then your heart will be filled with the joy of experiencing the manifestation of God’s Kingdom in God’s way.