Friday, November 20, 2020

Matthew 11 - Part 1


Read Matthew 11

Jesus sent out the 12 but didn’t use the time they were away at an all-inclusive resort.  He continued to teach and preach in the region of Galilee.  The disciples were sent on their first big mission.  Jesus continued teaching.  John the Baptist was in prison.

What came next was a little peculiar.  John, having heard of everything that Jesus was doing, sent disciples to ask Jesus if he was the one or if there would be another.

The question did not follow the premise.  Having heard of everything that Jesus was doing seemed like a statement that required no further inquiry.

The man who proclaimed, Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, now wanted to know if he had been mistaken during his encounter at the Jordan.

What did Jesus tell the disciples of John?

Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see:  The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.

The things that John had heard were true.  Jesus would not give John—who had professed Jesus as one far greater than himself—the simple answer that he wanted. 

Sometimes I hope that the answers to my prayers would come in an email.  Bold-faced title, a max of 3 paragraphs, links to important scriptures, and unmistakably from God—that’s all I want.

But sometimes, God has already answered.  The answer to your question has been before you for some time.

To empathize with John a little, when this whole baptizing thing began, John probably did not envision himself in prison.  Yes, the Messiah would come and his ministry would lessen, but prison wasn’t part of the deal, was it? 

Perhaps this prison gig was weighing heavily on John.  If you recall, he was not in prison for being a prophet, baptizing without a permit, or calling people to repent.  John was in prison for publicly condemning Herod, the local ruler.

John was sent as the forerunner to Jesus who came to save not to condemn.  Had John gone off mission in going after Herod?

Herod took his brother’s wife.  She was involuntarily divorced from her husband and became Herod’s wife.  John said, that dog don’t hut.

That landed him in prison and eventually resulted in his execution. 

So maybe John was feeling a little down.  He did his part.  Shouldn’t there be a retirement plan or something better than Herod’s prison?  We can feel for the guy.

Consider the last words that we have from Jesus to John’s disciples.

Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.

Blessed are you if you stick with me when your vision of the way this should have played out is not what is happening.  Blessed are you for trusting in the Lord and not in your own understanding.

You are blessed to trust that God’s plan is better than your plan. 

It would be so much easier if everything happened just as we had thought it should be.  John calls for repentance.  Jesus comes and brings a big sword and a bigger army.  The Romans leave with their heads tucked between their legs.  A Son of David sits upon the throne. Life is good.

Yep!  That’s the ticket.

But God had bigger plans.  His plans were not so limited to sending the Romans home and going back to business as usual, which if you note the history of God’s people, included falling short of God’s standards time and again and even the worship of false gods.

God had a bigger plan.  God has good plans.

So, the message from Jesus to John—stuck in prison—and to us who seem stuck in this world that seeks to conform us to its image—is trust him.  We will be blessed for trusting God when his plans don’t match our vision of what they should be.

We are blessed to trust in the Lord with all of our heart and lean not on our own understanding.

Even when, and especially when things don’t seem to be going the way we thought they would.  Trust in the Lord and be blessed.


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