When we picture Jesus riding the donkey down into Jeru-
salem surrounded by praises and blessings and hosannas -­-
this apparent moment of triumph when it seems that Jesus'
years of patience are beginning to pay off -- we need to
view the whole scene against the background o: Jesus'
word to the twelve when he first sent them forth:


"Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of

wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves...."

                                                               Matthew 10:16


Now Jesus Himself is a sheep in the midst of wolves - a Lamb

surrounded by the ones who are going to slaughter Him.


So while Jesus accepts their acclaim He does not allow
Himself to be carried away with all this apparent success.
At no point does Jesus pin His hopes on these people.


- He is wise as a serpent.


Nor does Jesus take advantage of their enthusiasm and start
manipulating the crowds for His own ends, as modern evan­
gelists are forever doing.


- He is innocent as a dove.


There is a lesson in this that we all need to learn, be­cause

there are moments in our lives when we are tempted
to believe that big things are just around the corner for
us. If we fail to be wise as serpents and innocent as

doves we invariably get sucked up with unreal expec­tations -

expectations that are inspired by a lie and that take us far from God.


How Jesus' expectations could have soared that day if He had pinned

them on this joyful crowd!


... if He had seen success in their terms

and allowed His mind to be inflamed with

this apparent victory.


Instead Jesus, wise as a serpent,

                      innocent as a dove, keeps His heart fixed
upon the real goal.

 "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem,
and everything that is written of the Son
of man by the prophets will be accomplished.
For he will be delivered to the Gentiles,
and will be mocked and shamefully treated
and spit upon; they will scourge him and kill
him, and on the third day he will rise."

Luke 18:31-33


          - that's what Jesus expects!


A few days later when things start going bad, the disciples

fall apart. But Jesus keeps right on going
because His expectations are based on reality. He's
not on some success trip ... but on His way to a cross.

When Jesus describes Satan as the father of lies what
does this mean but that Satan inspires in our minds
unreal expectations.


... he said to the woman, "Did God say, 'You
shall not eat of any tree of the garden'?"
And the woman said to the serpent, "We may
eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden;
but God said, 'You shall not eat of the
fruit of the tree which is in the midst of
the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest
you die."' But the serpent said to the
woman, "You will not die. For God knows that
when you eat of it your eyes will be opened,
and you will be like God, knowing good and evil,"

So when the woman saw that the tree was good
for food, and that it was a delight to the
eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to
make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate;
and she also gave some to her husband, and

       he ate.                               Genesis 3:1-6


So Eve pins her hope on something that will never be. She

eats the fruit and gives some to her husband and disaster



Every downfall that we've experienced in our lives began
with false expectations.  Instead of being wise as serpents
and innocent as doves we allowed ourselves to be lured
into expecting our fulfillment to come from another hand
than God's.


        - "When I achieve success I will be fulfilled."


- "When I make it in my profession I will be fulfilled."


- "When I marry this woman, this man, I will be fulfilled."

  - "When I finally own my dream house I will be fulfilled."

- "If I have an affair with so-and-so I will be fulfilled."


- "If I have that drink, or take those-pills, I will be fulfilled."


God knows the obsessions that consume our minds while we
go about our business looking quite normal ... and every
one of them is unreal!


Suppose we achieve the coveted goal,
               we accumulate our million,
               we have the affair,

we get good and drunk,


... we got what we wanted so badly.  Now what?


Four inevitable fruits follow:


The first is disappointment.

Now Absalom, David's son, had a beautiful
sister, whose name was Tamar; and after a
time Amnon, David's son, loved her. And
Amnon was so tormented that he made himself
ill because of his sister Tamar; for she was
a virgin, and it seemed impossible to Amnon
to do anything to her. But Amnon had a friend
whose name was Jonadab, the son of Shimeah,
David's brother; and Jonadab was a very crafty
man. And he said to him, "0 son of the king,
why are you so haggard morning after morning?
Will you not tell me?" Amnon said to him,

"I love Tamar, my brother Absalom's sister."
Jonadab said to him, "Lie down on your bed,
and pretend to be ill; and when your father
comes to see you, say to him, 'Let my sister
Tamar come,and give me bread to eat, and
prepare the food in my sight, that I may see
it, and eat it from her hand."' So Amnon
lay down, and pretended to be ill;

.....But when she brought them near him to
eat, he took hold of her, and said to her,
"Come, lie with me, my sister." She answered
him, “No, my brother, do not force me; for
such a thing is not done in Israel; do not

do this wanton folly. As for me, where could
I carry my shame? And as for you, you would
be as one of the wanton fools in Israel. Now
therefore,  I pray you, speak to the king; for
he will not withhold me from you." But he
would not listen to her; and being stronger
than she, he forced her, and lay with her.
Then Amnon hated her with very great hatred;
so that the hatred with which he hated her was
greater than the love with which he had loved
her. And Amnon said to her, "Arise, be gone."

II Samuel 13:1-15


Amnon's expectation was unreal.  It was sick. It was
all in his head. When he gets what he thinks he wants

he's bitterly disappointed.


Some of us labor for years to achieve a goal we think will
fulfill our lives apart from God, and when it comes, oh
the disappointment!


Wrecked marriages - because the man and woman expected a

                                 fulfillment from each other no human

                                 can ever give.


Devastated minds - because people expected a fulfillment out
of their work or their career that was
utterly unreal.

The next fruit of unreal expectations is self-pity....


"Now his elder son was in the field; and as
he came and drew near to the house, he heard
music and dancing. And he called one of the
servants and asked what this meant. And he
said to him, 'Your brother has come, and your
father has killed the fatted calf, because he

has received him safe and sound.' But he was
angry and refused to go in. His father came
out and entreated him, but he answered his
father, 'Lo, these many years I have served
you, and I never disobeyed your command; yet
you never gave me a kid, that I might make
merry with my friends. But when this son of
yours came, who has devoured your living with
harlots, you killed for him the fatted calf!

                                                        Luke 15:25-30


The older brother had pinned his expectations on his own
righteousness. He had no conception of the father's mercy.
What a disappointment when he sees mercy welcoming his
wayward brother ... mercy that was waiting for him all these
years. Now self-pity sets in.


"I did all these things for you. You never gave
me a goat to celebrate with my friends."


How we can wallow in it!  Some of us have been doing it
for years and we don't even realize it!


The next fruit of unreal expectations is bitterness.


King Saul followed his own way and lost his anointing as
king, disappointment and self-pity gave way to a long
season of bitterness. He was bitter toward David,

                                            bitter toward his own son,
                                            bitter toward his people.
His attitude was sour and morose because his heart had
long since forgotten to find its fulfillment in the God
of Israel.


We have tasted what it's like when the aroma of peace
is gone, along with all kindness and mercy ... nothing
left but smoldering bitterness which is the prelude to
the final fruit:  hell itself - separation from God.


Such is the journey of the soul that pursues its satis­faction

in the unreal, in anything apart from God,
whether it be money,

religious fame,

or kinky pleasures. The end is always the
same - disappointment,



"Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst
of wolves, so be wise as serpents and inno­cent

as doves."


- Wise enough to keep your eye on the true goal....


- Pure enough never to compromise.


Jesus' goal was not the admiration of the crowd,
or to conquer the Temple,

or to take over the throne.

- He had come to Jerusalem to lay down his

His goal was a cross. So is yours,

                                   so is mine!


Let's get it clear: the goal of following Jesus in this
world is a cross.  Don't let anyone mislead you into
thinking it's "prosperity" or spiritual thrills. The
cross that waits for us at the end, and sanctifies every
moment of our lives along the way, is our only source of

- It never disappoints us.


- It delivers us from self-pity.

- It heals our bitterness.


- It floods our lives with heaven.


                        - Our cross ... the cross Jesus bids us carry.


Let the rest of the world pursue "success" - whatever that
means. And let "celebrity Christianity" chase after the
crowds and make a name for itself before men. We have
been sent as sheep in the midst of wolves to follow the
Lamb of God to the cross ... to lay down our lives with Him
at the time and place of His choosing.


 "If any one would come after me let him deny
himself take up his cross and follow me."


"Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground
and dies it remains alone. But if it dies it
bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses
it, and he who hates his life in this world
will keep it for eternal life."
John 12:24-25


God help us get our eyes on the one real expectation He
offers us in this world: a cross.


"By this we know love, that he laid down his
life for us; and we ought to lay down our
lives for the brethren."              
I John 3:16


There is a death waiting for us at the end of our road
too. And on the way a thousand deaths to self. And from
this death and these deaths we can expect, from God,
rivers of divine mercy to flow.


Every time we lay down our life, spend ourself,
                           lose ourself, give ourself,

we taste the glory of God,

we touch the throne of mercy,

we know Jesus in the power of His resurrection, the
fellowship of His suffering, and the likeness of His


Every time we lay down our lives for others we experi­ence,

instead of self-pity, overflowing thankfulness.


"0 give thanks unto the Lord for he is good
and his mercy endureth forever."


...and instead of bitterness, unspeakable joy
...and instead of hell, heaven.


What are you expecting out of life? Some unreal success?
Or a cross?


If we have denied ourselves, taken up our cross, and are
following Jesus we need to remember that we are sheep

in the midst of wolves that seek to destroy us by luring
us to expect fulfillment in the wrong place.


God help us to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.
That with Jesus we may keep right on going past


-  false success,
-  false glory,
-  false peace,


and not quit until we come to the place where we drink
the cup He drank and receive the baptism He was baptized
with ... faithful unto death, even death on a cross.


God help us to expect nothing less,


                   to settle for nothing less.