“Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”
John the Baptist had come to prepare the way for Jesus, the Messiah. And John was so confident! He had a clear and sure word from God, just as you would expect from a prophet.
But in our reading today from Matthew 11, John has his doubts. Prison will do that to a person, making him question everything he’s sure of. What John has heard doesn’t measure up to the big hopes he has had for Jesus. God’s people are no closer to being free. Nor is John himself. So John sends a message to Jesus: “Have I been wrong about you?”
Jesus has nothing new to tell John. But he does encourage him not to lose hope: “Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”
John had his expectations of Jesus. We all do. But Jesus doesn’t act according to anyone’s expectations. He acts according to the Father’s plan. Jesus encourages John—and all of us—to trust that plan. The kingdom will come in God’s way and in God’s time.
There’s an old hymn that gets it just right: “For not with swords’ loud clashing or roll of stirring drums—with deeds of love and mercy the heavenly kingdom comes.” Of course the greatest deed of love and mercy is Jesus’ self-surrender on the cross. That one deed makes the kingdom a sure thing.
Generous Lord Jesus, thank you for who you are and for what you do. Help us to be grateful for your generosity to us and to show the same generosity to others. Amen.
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