Friday, May 17, 2019 -
The saying of Jesus in Luke 7:23 has always been confusing to me. Today I tried to dig a little deeper into understanding it, and Warren Wiersbe’s commentary was also a considerable aid in that regard!
The context is Jesus’ reply to John the Baptist’s disciples, being sent from John to inquire if Jesus really was the Messiah.
Jesus told them, “Go, and report to John what you have seen and heard, the blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who keeps from stumbling over me.”
Even in context, that last sentence always was confusing. But we need to look at the situation and Jesus’ answer from the perspective of John. Herod had already imprisoned John, and he’d been there sometimes, according to Luke 3:20. But his disciples kept him up to date with what Jesus was doing. I am sure that John’s circumstances were much more difficult than those that I fare, but that’s just speculation. Have no idea what Herod’s prison was like. Yet, it must have been discouraging for John being confined in prison when being used to freely roaming the wilderness.
And Jesus had said He’d come to set the captives free (Luke 4:18), yet John was still waiting for his own deliverance. I can relate!
It was no doubt a great temptation for John to doubt his own words and preaching. He did not disbelieve, but John was under great physical and emotional strain. John did not have the advantage of knowing the end result of the Messiah’s coming. Remember, the common belief at that time was God’s Chosen One would usher in the kingdom of Heaven on earth and He would be King of the Jews. Yet Jesus was bringing redemption to all mankind! John paved the way, causing men and women to search their hearts and repent of their sin. John may well have been perplexed about God’s overall plan and the seeming discrepancies in what he’d been hearing. Jesus’ ministry may have been quite different than what John had perceived it would be. I Peter 1:10-12 shows us that the prophets, and that includes John, were also confused about the perception that they had of the ministry of the coming Messiah. And so Jesus was telling John not to allow what he’d been hearing to keep him from stumbling in his faith. Indeed, Jesus was, and is the Messiah! Praise His holy name!
Jesus then goes on to reaffirm, once again (the first time was when He allowed John to baptize Him) the ministry and purpose of John. For John was a “reed” unshaken by the wind. He did not compromise. Sure, Satan tempts us all with doubts. Yet Jesus did not condemn John nor does He condemn you or me when we are tempted with doubt. It is at those times, more than any others when we must do as John did, and turn to Christ for our answers. He gave us the Holy Spirit, as well, and the complete Scriptures, which John did not have! They provide us with the power (Acts 1:8) we need to overcome and doubt or temptation!
In the meanwhile, we must remain faithful, as John was faithful, regardless of the circumstances. How appropriate that Kathie gave me these very appropriate verses this morning, “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,’ so that we can confidentially say, ‘the Lord is my Helper, I will not be afraid. What shall man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6). And I know for a fact, as John did I am certain, that God gives us the faith and endurance to face any challenge, even death. My death (see journal entry for_____) was not malicious, like John’s, yet I know that as a child of God, it was the most peaceful, wonderful experience I have ever experienced. God still had a purpose for me, but His purpose for John was fulfilled.