Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Is He Worth It?


As I was reading Parke's blog this morning, I got to thinking about the circumstances surrounding John the Baptizer in Matthew 11. I really want to pour out some thinking here because of the place in life some of The Journey's partners find themselves in. There's not nearly enough room or time to do this adequately, so forgive me if I make a couple of leaps. I hope you'll leap with me.
In this text, we find out that John's been inprisoned. From prison, he hears that his cousin, Jesus, and Jesus's disciples have been working miracles. John sends his disciples to Jesus with a question that exposes a condition we all have, a very human condition. He sends his disciples to ask Jesus if He really is the one who was to come. Now, I know it's not in the text, but I can see this progression of events in my head. John has heard about the miracles. He's spent his adult life (at least) announcing the coming of Jesus. But now he's in prison probably facing death. And so, in spite of everything he has seen, and what he is hearing, doubt comes. Even John the Baptizer could doubt. His question strikes me as a need for affirmation; "Has it all been worth it?" John's circumstances have overwhelmed him, and in a human moment, he needs a word from Jesus. And, as always, Jesus proves that it is indeed worth it. Jesus tells John's disciples, "Report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me." (NIV) Verse six is puzzling. Is John falling away? Is it because of Jesus? My opinion: the greek word that the NIV translates as "fall away" is the word skandelizo. The word really means to offend or shock. We get our english word "scandalize" from this word. It is in a passive voice here, meaning that someone is being offended or scandalized or shocked by someone else. In this passage, it could read, "Blessed is the man who is not offended/scandalized on account of me." Jesus response speaks to the heart of John's question. John's disillusionment clouds his memory. His circumstances begin to block-out what he has believed all his life: that Jesus is the Messiah. And at the heart of his question is a cry of "Am I going to be shocked/offended because I gave my life to this cause and it turns out you're not who you say you are?" MAN! Have you ever been there? Life blind-sides you, and suddenly you begin to wonder if Christ is worth it. Is Christ worth your life? Is He worth the hurt? Is He worth the tears? Is He worth the sacrifice? If He is, where is He in all this? That's the scandal facing all humanity, isn't it? The shocking, scandalous, offensive message of Christ is that there is something greater than ourselves, even when we don't feel like there is. Even when we feel that our circumstances are unfair, unjust suffering, there is a King who is worth it. I can imagine Jesus saying back to John, "Remember what you've heard. Hear the testimony of what others are seeing and know that I AM, and it's been worth it." The call to suffering is offensive. It is shocking. It doesn't make sense. Shouldn't the righteous flourish? Shouldn't the faithful be rewarded and esteemed? When I read this passage I am reminded that those who lose their life for the cause of Christ will find it. The world says that's a crock. Jesus simply points to the cross. What more scandalous event has there ever been? When you're in that dark night of the soul when the doubts come, look to the cross. Remember what you've seen. Remember what you've heard. In spite of the circumstances, Christ is worth it all.

7 comments:

Nathan Futrell said...

Also, I think that was Jesus way of saying to John, "I'm exactly who you've proclaimed; you've seen the signs. But I'm not comming to rescue you." I think not only was he understandably doubting his life's dedication, but also wondering if Christ (his cousin!) was coming to rescue him. But Jesus' response meant that John's path was at an end, his death would go to further serve and make famous the name of Christ. A great example that suffering is in the job description. Jesus is exactly who he said he is, but that doesn't mean we're going to be spared some worldly hurt. It does mean we won't face the trials alone. It also means that once life ends, hurting is over, and the cause for which we have suffered will be the banner of joy and celebration carried high overhead.

Billy V said...

passage treated very well. good devotional thought for today. John was expecting the baptism of fire \(judgment). Jesus did quite fit all of what John had in mind (yet), butJesus points to scripture, the very same book that Jesus uses to discuss John's ministry, Isaiah.
Good stuff JB

Jeremy said...

Thanks man, I really needed to hear that. I had never thought that John, being Jesus' cousin, who leaped at Mary's greeting to his mom, would doubt that Jesus was the Messiah. If he could doubt that Jesus was the I AM, then I don't feel so bad when I sometimes doubt that Jesus is caring about what I'm going through.

Katrina said...

Amen, Bishop. A great reminder for those times of struggle and doubt that we all face, no matter how many times we've marveled at His work in our lives! Thank you!

G said...

give the guy in the picture a belly and a haircut and you'd have Bishop

The Bishop said...

Dude! You're like the 3rd person to tell me that. One friend asked me if I photoshoped myself into this picture. Man that hurts. I'm crushed!

Lara said...

it's a compliment bishop (about all those who think you look like that picture...)

and Krystle IS doing wonderful. The first thing she said when waking up from the surgery was "Oh I forgot I was having surgery today!" When we were talking to her when she was still drugged up she was still making fun of us and the nurse(s)! She definately still has her personality! And you should definately keep planning on coming to visit when you guys come down! I know she's looking foward to it!