Faith of Jesus Daily Devotional - Day 44
Matthew:11:1-19 Jesus and John the Baptist
Previous Context: devotion:Matthew:10 Jesus Sends Out the Twelve
Recall that yesterday we talked about Jesus sending the twelve disciples by twos with a special anointing and a special mission. Along with that anointing He spoke in part of the persecution that they would suffer because of it then and there, but also down the line when the full indwelling of the Holy Ghost would come upon them after Jesus' resurrection and beyond.
What is God doing?
"He departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities"
Nothing has changed in God's plan. While the twelve disciples are off into the region with the Father's anointing, He continues to do His many obediences to the Father amongst the remaining disciples and multitudes following. It is during this time that John the Baptist from prison sends two disciples of his to question Jesus.
"The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them"
The response to John the Baptist is straightforward. It is the same answer anyone considering these many accounts should come to. Ask yourself how could this not be the Christ? The Father is attesting to everything Jesus obeys to say or do. A full description of what the Christ was to do is given by the prophets of old. The problem is not that Jesus has failed to make the case, it is that people choose not to believe even with confirmation provided. Apparently even John (or at least his remaining disciples) is having this difficulty to some extent as well.
"From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force"
It is not just that people are choosing to not believe the very clear evidence, they are pushing back. The disciples are now witnessing that first hand. Amazingly, God is allowing for this and not all of it is human driven either. Remember the prophecy is that the serpent would first strike the heel. It is with compassion for those to whom HE will be merciful upon that HE bares a great deal of insult and violence.
What is man doing?
"When John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples"
Even the very best of us are human. And to be human means to corrupt all things in various ways to various degrees. We operate by fear. We operate by our own expectations and what we are able to make of things. It is likely that especially with those in the know regarding the messianic prophecies that there is a confusion over whether the prophecies indicate two separate messianic figures (one kingly and the other a suffering servant) or one figure at two separate times. It is a confusion that remains in some circles even unto today. Whether this confusion is built into the prophecy (as in a short coming) or else it is man bending what is clearly stated in the prophecies by his corruption to his own desired conclusion I will leave to your inquiry. I rather think that man would have corrupted the understanding of the prophecies no matter how that God chose to fulfill them. Anyway, Jesus' response to John is most direct.
"Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he"
How many disciples John has remaining with him is unknown; at least two. Why they are following him when Jesus is in full stride is a worthy question, unless it is to show that the Father has graciously left him a few attendants and companions even in this trying personal time in prison. John is also greatly loved publicly; his continuing popularity will influence the elite religious and political figures in the months to come when they really conspire to take Jesus down.
There is a further consideration to make regarding John: Why did not the Pharisees stand up for him when he called the Herod out for an adulterous marriage? Sin on the throne is sin on the throne. They could have set aside their differences at least for this; the law was quite clear. Instead they sit on their hands and are dead silent on this matter. It goes to show how low on their kingdom list John the Baptist was kept.
"It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows"
Here we get to a very real problem: describing the peoples reaction to all of this divine fulfillment/confirmation. It is much like a child game or rhyme to them. If it is confirmed to be one thing then they will take the opposite view. If it is confirmed to be the other they will chose what they would not have chose had it been confirmed the opposite. Their reaction is always in the opposite no matter how comes about and is confirmed to be. It would be outright contradictory if they did not minimize the revelation down to a mere game.
What does this passage tell us about the about the commands and faith of Jesus that saints are to keep/guard?
"Blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me"
Why did Jesus add this into His response to John? One phrase he is the greatest born of women and the next the suggestion that he shouldn't be offended by how the role of Christ is being fulfilled. Sometimes offense is born of our expectations. I wonder if John expected Jesus to either get him out or else make more of a defense? Likewise, what similar thing would we take offense to because of what thing we expect?
Prophet Isaiah was perhaps the clearest to this point centuries before Prophet John when he said "Who have believed our report, and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?". No one believed to the extent that they thought themselves capable and the few whom were closest to believing struggled at some point with offense. Blessed are the meek!
"Wisdom is justified of her children"
The Apostle Paul once concluded that the wisdom of God is foolishness to the wise, that the wisdom of men is foolishness to God, God will bring the wisdom of man to naught, if there is anything left man to glory in, let them glory in God. I would add today that it is most wise not to be offended in Christ Jesus even if it means being offended by men.
Next: devotion:Matthew:11:20-24 Woe on Unrepentant Cities