Matthew 11:1-6, March 29, 2020
11:1 Jesus & His Disciples. The disciples were sent out following the instructions Jesus had given them in chapter 10. While Jesus went about teaching and preaching in the towns of Galilee.
11:2 John the Baptist in Prison. Turn back to 4:12 and that is when John was imprisoned. Why was he in prison? Because he had spoken directly against King Herod who had taken his brother Phillip’s wife Herodias as his own. He dared to tell Herod (and Herodias) he was living in sin, committing adultery. Only John had the courage to call this what it was, unlawful and a sin. For this he was thrown into prison. Was John concerned? Unlikely as he had baptized Jesus (3:16-17) so he knew the Messiah was here on the scene ready to make things right – at least as far as John was concerned. However, at this time John had been in prison for over a year. Prison for a man who did not even live in a house but in the wilderness, so as the days weeks and months crept by he began to doubt.
11:3 John’s Disciples Question Jesus. Because of his doubts John sent two of his disciples to ask Jesus is he was indeed the Messiah. Why? Because if the man he had baptized was really the Messiah he did not understand why he was still in prison. He knew it was in the Messiah’s power to have him released. Thus he had the expectation Jesus would use His power to release him. This was John’s unmet expectation. After all, he was the one spoken of in 3:3 and Isaiah 40:3 yet he remained in prison. Prison was like a living death for a man like John.
11:4-5 Jesus’ Answer Part 1. Jesus’ answer is right out of Isaiah 35:5-6a:
These are words John would recognize and they would give him peace in knowing Jesus was the One, the Messiah.
11:6 Jesus’ Answer Part 2. Then came part 2 of Jesus’ answer to John’s disciples. It is somewhat of an awkward answer. One we would easily read over and not understanding or questioning simply read on. After all, it seems to make no sense. Let’s look at it in a few different versions
It is only in the New Century Version (NCV) that the thought becomes clearer, but still confusing. Why would we stumble in our faith because of Jesus?
Unmet Expectations. Because of unmet expectations. We have them. All Christians do at one time or another. Because we know Jesus as our Lord and Savior and do our best to follow Him and walk in His Father’s will we have expectations. Job, health, family, peace, you name it. We know Jesus can meet our expectations if He would just do so. Yet He does not. Instead He is about meeting His Father’s expectations, not ours. As a result we end up having a Crisis of Faith – like John. And it does not take us a year in prison to have this Crisis of Faith. All we need is for life to become difficult, very difficult and knowing God could fix things if He would only see things our way. But He does not for He has infinite wisdom compared to our knowing what should be done with our limited wisdom.
Jesus in verse six wants us to know even when things are going terribly, He is still our Messiah just as He is when things are going well.
Still, knowing this, unmet expectations have knocked many a pastor out of the ministry and many Christians out of their walk with Christ. Knowing this Jesus sends His message to John who will understand the message in verse six; Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of Me. Jesus is even telling John that he won’t understand on this side of heaven, but I want you to trust me anyway. The Greek word translated offend or stumble here is
skandalizō. Let’s take a look at how it is defined:
Looking at the biblical usage and definition, when I have unmet expectations is when I will most likely feel distrust, deserted, offended because I have unmet expectations. I think I know what God should do and I do not accede to His infinite wisdom. At least not initially.
When John received Jesus’ message from his disciples – he understood as we should for God’s ways are higher than our ways. Even if it means the loss of a loved one. Why? Why we ask?
Isaiah 57:1 provides an answer even when we do not understand. The first person I thought of when I read this verse was David Elkins.
Bottom line, when we have unmet expectations we should not, must not, let those lead us away from our faith and trust in God for while Jesus is not meeting our expectations He is meeting those of His Father. Jesus is doing what He is doing and it is best we do not get offended. Job with all of his unmet expectations said 1:21-22 “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”