Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 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. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.’”Matthew 11:2-6, ESV
This story includes two realities. One reality is prison. This was John’s reality. He didn’t deserve to be there. The wrong people put him there. In our world, we would call this “injustice”.
Right now, many of us are feeling imprisoned by virus that is attacking our bodies, our finances and our communities. We may be feeling a bit of cosmic injustice. We don’t deserve to be here. We didn’t do anything wrong. We are being attacked and confined for no reason.
Like John, we may be looking for an explanation. Through messengers, he asks whether Jesus is the One who will save us, or whether we should be looking for someone else. A fair question when we are being unjustly held against our will. A fair question when we cannot free ourselves from the prison.
Jesus lovingly responds by pointing to another reality. In short, He tells us that He brings God’s Kingdom, and He is already freeing people. He refers to themes repeatedly expressed in the prophecies of Isaiah, especially from Isaiah 61.
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound….Isaiah 61:1, ESV
The healing miracles of Jesus assure us that God is at work. He reigns and He loves. This is another reality. John experiences the reality of prison, but he also lives in another reality. God has not stopped working. Freedom is at work. While he is imprisoned, many are being healed.
Jesus concludes His answer with a blessing: “Blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” A “blessed” person knows how good they have it. They know they are in a good place. Hard to do when you are in prison. Hard to do when you don’t understand why God does what He does. Hard to do when Jesus does not fix things when and how we expect.
We can begin to feel blessed, however, when we focus on what God is doing while we are in prison. It is easier to do when we realize that God sent His Son into this broken world to begin a long, universal work of healing and freeing. Easier to do when we realize that God will always win, and we will be freed. This will be our future. One day this will be our only reality.
As we all experience the global injustice of this virus, let’s remind ourselves of our other reality, that God is still at work, healing and freeing through Jesus. And remind one another that we share one future, because God always gets what God wants.
In His Service,