“. . . be rejected by the elders and chief priest and scribes . . .” Mark 8:31
Peer pressure is real, no matter the age or stage in life. Jesus faced the many varied expectations of others. Yet, He remained free from the opinions of others. He was fearless in the face of what others thought He should be. He was bold in truth, no matter what it cost Him, in all ways and all things. That day in the temple, His eyes blazed with righteous anger. He hurled the tables to the ground while the sellers of sacrifices clutched after their coins as they hit the ground, spilling and scattering into inaccessible places.
Jesus didn’t fit into anyone’s expectations. He bore no resemblance to the religious He didn’t live like the common folk, wherever He went, He was bigger than every environment. His talk, His actions were unlike anything any had seen.
Yet, after two thousand years, we are afraid to follow Him. We are too timid to live the way He lived. We hedge, compromise and try to forget His way of living. We tone down His requirements till they match our way of living. Sometimes the obstacle to following Him is nothing but sheer cowardice.
We make Jesus over in our image and eliminate the eternal claim He makes on our life. Some present Christ as a traveling, nonviolent teacher spouting off pithy maxims. While others see Him as a social liberator, or a charismatic reformer. The speculations are no closer to the truth than the best guesses of Jesus’ contemporaries.
Jesus had to resist the pressure to conform to the expectations of religious opponents to behave in a certain manner. He also had to fend off the wishful thinking of His closest disciples to do what a political messiah was supposed to do. The temptation for Jesus to meet the expectations of His followers must have been enormous for fear that they would be disappointed and desert Him. But Jesus pledges to do only the will of God, even if it means dying alone.
We will face the pressure of what others think. Craving social approval, it would be easy to play a role rather than to live authentically. Social justification is easier than justification by faith. Hard, relentless, trusting faith is always difficult. It’s a lonely thing to leave the crowd and head off in God’s direction.
But Jesus promises resistance to the expectations of others and unflinching faithfulness will be vindicated by being raised from the dead in three days. And we, who have died with Him, will be raised again. Those who are brave enough to go God’s way fully, will find fulfillment in Him.
Whose expectations are more important to you than God’s?