Good Friday morning ...

No one expected 2020 to be the year it has become.

Last March no one expected we would still be in the throes of COVID-19 in mid-December. No one expected the number of cases worldwide to have grown to 67.6 million as of December 4th. Nor did anyone expect the death toll to reach 1.54 million. No one imagined the shuttering of businesses, the closure of houses of worship, schools, gyms and restaurants, and the bankruptcies of mom-and-pops. And no one expected during all of that for our national election to drag on well into December without full resolution to the outcome.

The phrase: "I never expected that to happen!" has become all too familiar this year. There was no way to foresee what would happen in 2020 as the new year dawned last January 1st. It's just not what we expected.

Over 2,000 years ago there was also a lot of unexpected activity.

No one expected the Messiah to come the way He did. No one expected a miraculous birth. No one expected the Messiah to be born of a young virgin woman in a barn lying in a lowly manger. No one expected the Messiah to be born out of wedlock. No one expected a woman to conceive without ever knowing a man.

What they did expect back then was a conquering Messiah, a warrior king who would defeat the powers that be. What they expected was a militant type Messiah, one who would be combative, aggressive, revolutionary. What they expected was a restoration type Messiah who would rebuild the Temple, cleanse the land and keep the Torah. No one expected the Messiah to come as He did.

But they should have. For there were signs; there were pronouncements; there were prophecies.

Micah foretold, "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” [Micah 5:2]

Isaiah prophesied that "the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son and will call Him Immanuel." [Isaiah 7:14}.

Jeremiah says, “'The days are coming,' declares the Lord, 'when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteous Savior.'" [Jeremiah 23:5-6]

No one expected Mary to receive an angel who would inform her that she was with child by the Holy Spirit and that she would bear a son and this "holy one to be born will be called the Son of God." [Luke 2:35}. Joseph never expected to hear words from an angel in a dream telling him to not be afraid "to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." [Matthew 1:20-21].

But expected or not, it happened just as the prophets foretold it and Jesus was born and became the Savior of the world through His death and resurrection.

Regardless of our failed expectations for 2020, at the end of the year we can have the same expectation as we have every day, that by grace we are saved through faith in the One who came at Bethlehem and was crucified for us at Calvary. Expectations do not always pan out as we might hope ... that is until God's perfect plan unfolds and then, there is no holding back. It happens just as He degrees and for that we are blessed.

I pray that your future expectations include the gift of eternal life acquired by faith in Jesus, the Messiah.

Have a blessed weekend ...