As parents, we are sometimes surprised by the things our children do or say, especially, but not only in those first few years. The first smile, the first word, the first step, they are all expected, but still a joyful and sometimes surprising event. Even when something is known and predicted to occur, like the budding and flowering of a fruit tree in spring, there is still a breathtaking joy to wake up in the morning and see that a tree is now in flower.
It seems right that these events, programmed into creation, bring a wholesome joy to our hearts. And to not be touched by these events, says something about our own state of being. It is possible to refuse to participate in the joy of God’s handiwork as it displays his glory around us.
So, when our children, and grandchildren, draw their first picture, sing their first song, throw their first ball, we are enthralled, though some might say this is ordinary stuff.
And we can also experience disappointment, when our children do less than expected, or deliberately refuse our advice or instruction. This can happen outside of the teenage years. This sort of disappointment could be considered the inverse of joyful surprise. It is a painful surprise. Like finding out your wonderful friendly pet dog has just killed the neighbour's pet chicken. Ouch.
Was Jesus ever surprised? Given his wisdom and prophetic gifts, some might say that he had no grounds for surprise. And if we look at God’s presence in the garden of Eden, was he surprised that Adam and Eve had sinned? Surely he knew. But knowing that your child has committed a crime does not take away the need to speak to your child yourself and hear from their own lips what has transpired. And surely such an occurrence, for a loving parent would bring emotional pain, even freshly, as the details are re-explained.
As I write this I do wonder that the investment of love is what actually brings both joy and sorrow to the events that go on around us, even when we know that the events are normal or expected. And may I also add to this the joy and wonder that children openly express as they experience simple events, maybe not even for the first time, such as an infant being bathed, or a child holding a puppy.
I do believe Jesus experienced both joy and surprise, but also disappointment.
My mind turns to his response to people’s faith. Such as the centurion’s servant who was healed at a distance, and the woman with the flow of blood that touched the hem of his garment, the widow who put in her last copper coin in to the temple collection, and then his surprise at Nicodemus' lack of understanding (also faith related).
He was not surprised by Peter’s assertions or betrayal, nor that of Judas, but he was still moved by these events. The reason he is moved is because he loves us. If he did not love, he would not be affected.
We are not robots or automatons, programmed to succeed or fail by an emotionally detached and remote God. We are his children and he dearly loves us, and he is exceedingly joyful when we repent, and walk by faith, and I suspect he is also disappointed when we sin, but not to the point of giving up on us. He has provided everything we need (out of his love) so that we can continue on in his great grace and great love and great mercy. And His joy is our strength.
2 Peter 1:3 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the full knowledge of the one who called us by his own glory and excellence.