Behold I Thought

“But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the LORD his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper.”

This passage (2 Kings 5:11) is one that is very familiar to most. We know the story. Naaman, was a mighty man with his master, and a man of great valor, but he was a leper (2 Kings 5:1). Naaman was sent to the house of Elisha and upon arrival, something took place that Naaman didn’t expect. Elisha sent a servant out and told him to go wash in the Jordan river and be clean. Naaman went away in a rage.

What happened here? The answer is found just above when it was mentioned that the events that occurred were not in line with Naaman’s expectations. Naaman had this all figured out before he even traveled from Syria to Israel. Read it again, “But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the LORD his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper.

Naaman had expectations of how he would receive his healing. He was a dignitary, second in command of Syria- right next to the King. Naaman was a powerful man, but he had the dreaded, incurable disease of leprosy. He was in need of something he nor his position and power could supply. He couldn’t buy or fight his way out of this terrible malady. The only remedy to aide this valiant fellow would be supplied by the God of heaven.

                                           “Behold I Thought”

Naaman isn’t the only Bible character we see who had expectations. Early on in the Gospel record left by Luke, we read a section of scripture (Luke 2:41-50) where Mary and Joseph have left Jerusalem after “fulfilling the days” (2:43). They journeyed with “the company” back to their homes. They fully expected that Jesus was among the company they had traveled with to worship. It didn’t dawn on them that He wasn’t where He “was supposed to be” until they couldn’t find Him. Immediately, they return to Jerusalem and find Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the most educated men of Israel, “hearing them and asking them questions” (2:46). The next verse (2:47) tells us that “all that heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers”. Scholars and men well versed in the history and culture of these days and practices tell us that this form of conversation (questions and answers- back and forth) was typical of rabbinical teaching. It doesn’t appear that Jesus was “teaching” them, but His questions must have been pregnant with substance well beyond the years of a boy of twelve. He had not yet “grown in wisdom, stature, and favor with God and man” (2:52) at the time of this temple scene, but it was the direction of His life.

Just as Joseph and Mary had expectations of Jesus, seen in their question to Him, “Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? Behold, thy farther and I have sought thee sorrowing.” This line that Mary deals Jesus is full of expectation that Jesus would repent of such treacherous dealings with His parents, but He immediately tells them of His own expectations. And He said unto them, “How is it that ye sought me? Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” We now see that within this instance, not only did Mary and Joseph have expectations, but Jesus had them as well as God.

Let’s also consider the man at the beautiful gate (Acts 3:1-10). This man laid at this very well used gate begging alms. He was able to provide for himself through whatever generosity was shown to him day in and day out. In this setting, we find Peter and John going up to the temple and this lame man ask them for a monetary donation. Verse five says, “that he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them”. Sometimes our expectations pail in comparison to what we actually receive or experience. This was such the case with this lame man.

What about another Old Testament example of expectations, Jonah. We read in Jonah 4:2, “And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore, I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.” Jonah expected that God would forgive the arch enemy of Israel, because Jonah knew God. Jonah understood the nature of God and spelled it out plainly in the latter part of the verse above. Jonahs desires didn’t match the expectations. But, some today desire to be forgiven but expect that God never will forgive them. That, my friend, is a travesty.  

Last, do you remember the wicked, lazy servant that Jesus spoke about in Matthew 25:24-28? Jesus tells of a master who distributed some currency between three individuals and then went on a journey. Two of the individuals doubled up on the goods and grew the value for the master, but one, the wicked and lazy one, did nothing. He dug in the ground and buried the master’s possession until he would return. Listen to the sluggard’s expectation of the master (Matthew 25:24-25), “Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.” A lot of relationships are hurt today by one person impugning motives to another-and having expectations not grounded in reality. 

Expectations are a part of our lives. They are a good and healthy part of life. But what about Mary, Joseph and Jesus? The temporal parents of our Lord were right in sorrowing after Jesus, unaware of His wellbeing. The world Jesus grew up in was wicked and evil (Luke 11:29; Matthew 16:4; Acts 2:40). Their expectations needed to be tempered with the expectations Jesus had to be about His Fathers business. Jesus was in His Fathers house, among His Fathers people, discussing His Fathers law. Jesus was right at home! God had expectations of Jesus, and Jesus was ever mindful of those (John 9:4; John 4:34; John 17:4).

The man at the gate called beautiful expected a penny or two, but what he received was beyond his wildest imagination. Sure, he had imagined what it would be like to walk, but he was lame from the womb. He had no experience in walking. He hadn’t felt a brisk wind through his hair from a quick trot to go somewhere in a hurry. He had never walked. What he expected to receive and what God expected to do for him on the basis of his faith was worlds apart. The lame man looked for a momentary relief from the pains of a life consigned to begging from immobility. God changed his life- forever.

The most important aspect that we need to be mindful of when dealing with our expectations is “am what I am expecting in harmony with God’s will?”

Many sad and disheartening times would be avoided if we would heed the advice of the Apostle Paul. “And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.” Do you notice the italicized words, “of men” in 1 Corinthians 4:6 above? They were added to help us understand the verse, but I think it just as proper to have left it out.

Many expectations would be properly set and met if we did not think above that which is written. God has given us the perfect guide for our lives and expectations. Let’s be a people that stick to the book, love people like God does- even his enemies. Let’s be a people that strive not to impugn evil motives. Let’s consider the expectations of others and not just our own. Let’s go to heaven together. I want to leave you with some encouraging words of Paul- relative to his expectations.

“For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:19-21

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