In Part 1, we pondered our temptation to “look to another” when we doubt the coming of Jesus into our situations and circumstances. Jesus addresses the question in the next verses of Chapter 11, sending a message back to John:
” And Jesus answered them, ‘Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them'” (Matthew 11:4-5).
It’s as if Jesus tells John to go listen to more testimonies. “Test it. Check out the stories. Here are more accounts of my miracles. Yes, I’ve been doing all that you hear.”
I think this is important for us to hear. When we are in the context of suffering or carrying a heavy load, we sometimes don’t believe that God can truly bring healing or relief. This is when we need the body. We need the church. We need each other’s stories and experiences.
Then Jesus says this:
” And blessed is the one who is not offended by me” (Matthew 11:6).
What is this all about?
Over the next few verses Jesus essentially says, “Here’s how I work: in ways that are offensive to the world and for those of you who aren’t offended by that, kudos.”
Jesus is an equal opportunity offender. Blessed are those who trust Him and are not offended by Him. Blessed are those who choose His ways and not the world’s ways.
Then, he gives examples of how He rubs against our typical ways…and I like to read these next verses with a little sass:
As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, “‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.’ Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. He who has ears to hear,[e] let him hear” (Matthew 11:7-15).
The people had to go into the wilderness to hear of Jesus’ coming from a man dressed in honey soaked camel’s hair. Church planting 101 says to start your church in a highly visible area, but Jesus sends people out into the wilderness. His messenger, John, wasn’t wearing soft, comfortable, hipster-church-planter clothes.
Verse 12 says:
“The kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, the violent take it by force.”
Jesus wasn’t talking about literal violence. He was painting a picture of his ‘church plant’. The people were so eager for the kingdom of heaven, they had the same fervor for it as a mob has trying to siege a city.
Jesus was explaining that He had come in the most absurd way, offensive even, and the people couldn’t get enough of Him. (And it’s important to note that the people who were eager to accept Him with no offense were the broken, the ill-reputed, the socially downcast.)
He says, “if you are willing to accept it…He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Are we willing to accept that God’s message of love might come in a package that offends, that is abrasive, that is uncomfortable, and could look a whole lot like suffering?
“Let anyone who has ears, hear”…that phrase is a proverbial statement that’s asking for the deepest of attention of the audience.
Does He have our attention?
HE DOESN’T COME IN A POLITE WAY! No one escapes the wilderness. No one escapes the uncomfortable Jesus. But what he has for those who aren’t offended by Him is ultimately miraculous healing of heart and soul and good news.
Are we are willing to accept the backwards message of Jesus to settle on us?
Are we willing to not have our trials and sufferings, our heavy loads offend us?
Blessed is the one who is not offended by me. He is the ‘equal opportunity offender.’ At some point, he rubs us all the wrong way…because He is all truth and we are all sinners. We are bound to butt heads with Him. Our flesh is bound to wrestle over the truth.
“A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city, and quarreling is like the bars of a castle” (Proverbs 18:19).
Are we offended by the truth?
Are we unyielding, resistant to transformation and a bending to Jesus’ words?
Are we held captive behind bars of an unyielding spirit of quarreling?