When we survey God’s interaction with mankind; it has always been full of surprises. Full of the unexpected and the amazing.
People have consistently had trouble accepting God and his unorthodox and paradoxical ways. Creating the universe out of nothing still boggles our minds, and those of scientists and atheists. Abraham and Sarah were surprised on many occasions, particularly by the birth of Isaac. There were surprises galore for all involved in the Exodus from Egypt, both the Israelites and the Egyptians.
Many were surprised in the OT negatively as well as positively. Adam and Eve, and Israel were surprised when their choices to live independently of God turned out so badly, but Noah, Joseph, Moses, and David were hugely surprised by God’s rescuing them from impossible situations in ways they could never have imagined.
In the New Testament Jesus’ birth, its time and place, circumstances and implications was the greatest surprise of all. Mary and Joseph were totally surprised by what the angels told them.
John the Baptist’s disciples were surprised and put off by Jesus. Later even John the Baptist himself questioned if Jesus was indeed the Messiah, because he wasn’t doing what John expected. The disciples were shocked and surprised by Jesus’ actions and teachings just about every day of their time with him.
The religious leaders were surprised and outraged by him. Pilate was so surprised and puzzled by Jesus, that he washed his hands of responsibility for the decision about his fate.
The crucifixion was a massive surprise and upheaval the life of Peter and the other followers of Jesus. And what we read about Jesus’ resurrection is one surprise after another.
Saul, who became Paul experienced one of the most profound and transforming surprises of all. He went on to teach and expound the surprises of Jesus and the Gospel more comprehensively than anyone else.
So it is clear from repeated examples that with God, all we can reliably expect is the unexpected. When we or others expect the expected, when we think we have God and his future actions all nailed down and circumscribed, then we are sure to be in for a real surprise.
Check out our Sermon Section for a series of sermons on “The God of Surprises.”