Monday, September 8, 2014

Did Jesus Run?

I have to say this picture definitely surprised me. As I was flipping through one of David and Daniel’s Bible story coloring books, I found I couldn’t move past this page. Jesus running?! Really?

The context must be Matthew 4:12, “When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he returned to Galilee.”

This coloring book interpretation makes it seem like Jesus ran to Galilee to rescue John.

Can you imagine Jesus rushing in to address Herod, with bold words like the ones Moses spoke to Pharoah, “Let John the Baptist go!”

No, it didn’t happen that way.

Jesus returned to Galilee to fulfill the prophesy of Isaiah that those living in the land of Galilee would see a great light. (Matthew 4: 13-16 and Isaiah 9:1,2)

John the Baptist had prepared the way for Jesus’ coming. His job was now over (although he didn’t know it) and Jesus had stepped into the spotlight. John had been confident that Jesus was the Messiah, but he must have wondered why— if Jesus knew he was in prison he didn’t do something about it.

So he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the one come or should we expect someone else?” (Matthew 11:3)

Last week I read a challenging book that some friends passed on to us called The Barbarian Way by Erwin Raphael McManus. I really appreciate his insight into John’s questioning of Jesus.

John was living between prison and platter when he sent the message to Jesus. Shouldn’t he expect Jesus to drop everything and come to his aid? After all, he had always been there for Jesus. Where was He when John needed him? Was he unaware that John needed help? Was He indifferent to John’s dilemma? Or was He simply not the Messiah as John had always believed?

When Jesus received the inquiry from John’s disciples, He got an impressive response: “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive 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.” (Matthew 11:4-6)

…John already knew all that…The amazing and inspiring work of Jesus didn’t eliminate John’s doubts; it actually fueled them…

Why would Jesus’ doing so much good jeopardize John’s faith? How could the very things that Jesus was doing to help others cause John to lose heart? When we look at Jesus’ response to John, we see one line that just doesn’t fit. After he reinforced all of the evidence that He was the Messiah, retelling His miraculous work among the people, He closed with this seemingly disconnected thought: “Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.”

…Jesus was saying to him, “John, I’m not coming through for you. I’m not getting you out of prison. I’m not sparing your life. Yes, I have done all this and more for others, but the path I choose for you is different from them. You’ll be blessed, John, if this does not cause you to fall away.”

As Jesus listened to God His Father, He knew exactly which miracles to perform and which not to perform. Rescuing John from prison was not a miracle that God had planned. And so, John was killed at the hands of Herod. John’s example and Jesus’ words to him, “Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me” can encourage us when Jesus doesn’t come to our rescue in the way we had hoped. 

When we wish He looked like He does the coloring book page, running in to rescue us, but the answer we receive to our cry for help is,

“The path I have for you is different than anyone else’s. Keep trusting in me.”

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