a tapestry of thoughts and aphorisms from my journey
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Is He Worth It?
As I was reading Parke's blogthis 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.