“And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” – Luke 7:23
The month of July is filled with many events and activities at FBC Baton Rouge. Much of what we are doing this month is geared toward children and families. We believe in the God ordained blessing of the family, whether it is a single household or a house filled with many children. We love families, and we want to help all of our families grow in faith as we walk together trusting in Jesus. For those of you with children or grandchildren which you have regular contact with, I want to ask you a question: What are you telling them about Jesus? What sort of picture do you paint for them of the kind of Savior and Lord which Jesus has proven to be? I want to be helpful to you in this area, so let me start by saying that this article is meant to be to be challenging and encouraging.
I hope this does not come as a total shock to you, but here goes: “Jesus isn’t concerned with doing things your way.” I know that’s a lot to lead off with, but don’t stop reading just yet; give me a chance to show you something magnificent about Jesus.
I was reading Luke 7 recently when I came across a familiar passage of scripture, where Jesus is addressing a concern of John the Baptist and Jesus’ fulfillment of the messianic promises (Isaiah 42:1-9). John was the last great prophet of God who had the task of proclaiming the coming of the Lord’s Messiah (Isaiah 40:3-5). John the Baptizer (as he was known) was a voice in the wilderness of Israel (both literally and spiritually) who called people to repent and trust in God alone for salvation. He spoke judgment and redemption, and he called all people to prepare themselves for the arrival of the Messiah (Luke 3:7-9, Matthew 3:1-6). Then, Jesus stepped onto the scene and John baptized him (Matthew 3:13-17), after which Jesus began his ministry (Mark 1:14-15). Yet as we read the gospel accounts it appears that after his encounter with Jesus, John the Baptist just disappeared, as if his only job was to proclaim the coming of Jesus Christ, and then get out of the way. And in all honesty, that is exactly what God intended for him to do. But as Jesus was ministering in the land (Luke 4:14-44), calling disciples to follow him (Luke 5:1-11), and confronting the broken religious system of the day (Mark 2:1-12), John was still doing prophetic ministry. In fact, he continued to speak out against the evil of the day, and in particular against the wickedness of King Herod and his household. In one particular encounter, John called out Herod for taking his brother’s wife (Herodias) and making her is own wife. This got Herod angry and John ended up in prison (Matthew 14:1-4). This should not be surprising to us since this is the way those in authority often respond when sin is confronted and exposed. It is here, in prison, where John the Baptist gets a dose of reality, which he may not have been expecting. In Luke 7:19-20 we read:
And John, 19 calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 20 And when the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?’”
John was stuck in prison, and Jesus had not yet come to rescue him. Instead, Jesus continued to heal, preach, forgive, pray, and lead his disciples, and his path never led him to the prison in order to deliver John from Herod. So, John sent messengers to ask “Are you ‘really’ the Messiah or should we be looking for someone else?” To which Jesus replied with actions and words:
21 In that hour he healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight. 22 And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. 23 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
So Jesus does all the things which were spoken of the Messiah (healing diseases, restoring sight, casting out evil spirits), and he does them all in front of John the Baptist’s disciples. Then he tells them to report back to John about all they had witnessed, sending them away by quoting Isaiah 42:6-7 – I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. John knew this scripture, as it was a well-known prophecy of what the expected Messiah would do. John interpreted this prophecy to mean that the Messiah (Jesus) would rescue him from prison (dungeon, darkness). But the prison of Isaiah 42 is NOT intended to be a literal one, but rather a spiritual one. Jesus came to deliver people from the prison of sin. Understandably, John was disappointed, and even “offended” with what appeared to be Jesus’ lack of attention to his circumstances. In his offense he asked if he should be looking for another Messiah.
Why was John “offended” by Jesus’ failure to act on his behalf? It is a deep problem that each of us faces from time to time: John the Baptist misunderstood Jesus’ mission. Jesus was not operating based on John’s understanding of the situation. Jesus was not concerned with doing things John’s way because he had higher and greater ways which he was not obligated to reveal to anyone (even someone as faithful as John). In the end, John’s destiny according to God’s will was to prophesy, then suffer, and ultimately die as an example of a life surrendered to God’s will (Read: Matthew 14:5-12). As hard as that may be for us to accept, it is exactly what God expects us to accept by faith, for his glory.
Here is the application for our families: our world today is telling our children that they are entitled to whatever they want, and that they can be whoever they want, and they are owed honor, respect, and trust from everyone they meet, and that they have a right to be offended when life doesn’t work out he way they desire. It is a pervasive and destructive worldview, yet is all too real. The greater problem for parents and children who claim to follow Jesus is that we take that perspective and apply it to our relationship with God, as though he owes us some kind of respect and tribute. We often think and act as though we are smarter than God by questioning his motives rather than trusting his plans. Yet God is doing what He has set out to do before the foundations of the world, and he does not need our approval or validation. We are subject to Him; always. We must not take offense to this great and glorious truth. The best thing that we can do for our children is to show them that God’s way is better, and HE is not obligated to fulfill our desires and will, even though we may have the best of intentions with a heart full of faith. Our lives and that of our children’s lives are meant to make Christ known to the world, and for this we must not take offense. Our greatest goal in life is to make sure our children know that Jesus loves them in ways they cannot comprehend and yet Jesus is not concerned with doing things their way. Rather He is carrying out the Father’s will in every way for the glory of God’s name. And for this we must not take offense.
Let us serve our children well as we teach them the beautiful truth of God’s sovereignty, that we may not fear what will happen if “our way” is not realized. Rather, let us be faithful to submit to God’s will as a witness to the world that only Jesus’ way is proven right and good. We are not offended by Christ; we are gladly surrendered.