When John the Baptist's disciples came to ask Jesus, on behalf of John, if Jesus was the Messiah they'd been waiting for, Jesus gave a strange answer. He listed the many wonderful and miraculous deeds He'd been doing -- healing the sick, raising the dead and preaching good news to the poor -- and then Jesus said, "And blessed is the one who is not offended by Me" (Luke 7:23).
To the modern reader, it can seem strange that Jesus would be concerned with issuing a warning about offense in the context of such wonderfully amazing good deeds. Surely Jesus was listing all these good deeds to make it clear to John that only someone sent by God could accomplish them. So why the concern regarding potential offense? I've only know one way to answer that question. If John had the typical Jewish idea of what the Messiah was expected to come and do -- deliver Israel from Roman oppression -- he would have been vulnerable to being disappointed by Jesus's lack of action in this regard. And if Jesus had actually dared to tell John about His plan to be killed by the Romans, such a thought would have surely been offensive to John.
And though I've long understood this story in that way, and have often read it with an air of familiarity, contentedly smug in my superior perspective to John's ancient views, I'm vaguely aware of my own vulnerability to offense with Jesus regarding similar issues. It's 2010 now, and Jesus still hasn't delivered my wife of kidney disease. Sure I can see Him doing loads of good things in this world -- but like John, I'm capable of minimizing all of that in light of what I don't see Him doing. I'm capable of being offended because Jesus hasn't done what I thought He ought to have done by now! I'm capable of being distracted by unmet expectations.
But it's not Jesus' job to meet my expectations -- not in this or any area of my life -- and I'll be blessed if I don't take offense with Him over that. It's good to have expectations, but it's also good to hold them with open hands and with an open mind. God does things in His way, in His timing, according to His plan. That was true in John the Baptist's day, and it's true today. And the sooner I embrace that amidst all the hopes that I have, the more blessed I will be as God gradually reveals His plans to me.
© 2010 by Ken Peters
© 2010 by Ken Peters