DayBreaks for 10/30/18: On Account of Me
From the DayBreaks archive, October 2008:
Yesterday, I shared from Matthew 11:4-6 where Matthew recorded the story of John the Baptist’s moments of doubt. He’d dispatched followers to find out if Jesus was the one that they had been expecting, or if they should be on the lookout for someone else. Jesus invited them to stay long enough to see and hear for themselves the great things that Jesus was doing – evidence of a Divine power that no human alone could exercise.
But at the end of the time the followers were with Jesus, he commissioned them to return to John with this kind of report from Mt. 11:4-6: Jesus replied, “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.
Did you get that last little bit? “Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.” What did Jesus mean? Why would anyone fall away after witnessing the great miracles Jesus was doing – giving sight, making legs strong, fixing eardrums, curing diseases and even raising the dead? It would seem that those things would have exactly the opposite effect: they would keep one from falling away.
Not so, apparently. Remember the context: John’s in prison, awaiting his beheading for antagonizing King Herod by telling him he was an adulterer. John had done great things for Jesus, publicly proclaiming at the Jordan: Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world! He had prepared the way for Jesus excellently. Jesus had said no man ever born of woman was greater than John. That’s very high praise. But here’s John, stinking up the dungeon, and after all that John had done for Jesus, would it be too much to think that when Jesus got word of John’s plight, that he’d come to see John at the very least, or perhaps even to get him out of prison? And so John had waited. Jesus didn’t show up. He didn’t write to John. He didn’t send messages to him via his own disciples to encourage John to stay strong. No, none of that. Jesus was off preaching far away from the dungeon in which John found himself. And it makes John wonder: “Was I wrong about this guy? Why is he out there doing great things for others but not for me? I’m his cousin, for Pete’s sake, and I spent my life preparing Israel for Jesus’ ministry!
Could Jesus have been saying: “Blessed are you, John, if you don’t fall away for what you perceive I have failed to do for you.” Did John want a deliverance? I think so – he was human. But he didn’t get it, not even in what appears to be his hour of greatest need. And Jesus simply says, “Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.”
Perhaps you are in a dungeon of your own, or someone else’s making right now, and your doubts have surfaced and bit into your faith a bit. You wonder why Jesus hasn’t come to help you, or that person you love that you’ve been praying for. And you wonder, “Is this Christianity real or not?” Take courage from the words of Jesus that preceded this difficult statement: look at what Jesus has done, and is doing. Can anyone other than the Son of God do those things? No. God’s favor rested on Jesus. Like John, we at times must be reminded of the great things Jesus does, but also remember that we are blessed if we don’t fall away on account of Jesus – and what he has not done for us in this world.
John didn’t get his miracle of deliverance. But he got his answer, and it was enough to see him through faithfully into eternity. You may not get your miracle of deliverance from disease, divorce, economic ruin, a job loss or anything else. But you don’t need it: “Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.”
PRAYER: I fear, sometimes Lord, that we believe we should have special treatment in this world and that we shouldn’t be subject to the same kinds of disasters that strike others. At times of our struggle, help us to remember that those who never saw you or touched you after your resurrection and still believe are even more blessed than those who did touch you and see you with their own eyes. Help us to never fall away on account of something You do, or don’t do, for us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>