A great man humiliated, imprisoned and beheaded…and he wasn’t rescued?

John the Baptist was Jesus’ cousin. A blood relative of Christ on his mother’s side, John, prepared the way for Christ proclaiming to the people, ” I am the voice of one calling in the desert, Make straight the way for the Lord.”  John’s most glorious words, spoken when Jesus was approaching him are one of my favorite spoken in Scripture,

” Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!”

The very one who had come to wash away John’s impurities of soul allowed this imperfect man the honor of facilitating Jesus’ obedience to the Father through baptism.

Jesus speaks of John in the Gospel of Matthew, ” I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist… John, praised by Christ and used by God to prepare the way for the most glorious event in human history – suffered.

John didn’t have a statue in the town square. He didn’t even have a park bench named in his honor. He didn’t get a power trip and end up bargaining his way to the top in the temple. He didn’t own the biggest house on the block and drive the fastest chariot. He wasn’t voted into any office because of his popularity. He didn’t have a cushy life and he didn’t get to hang with Christ, letting everyone see him rub shoulders with God incarnate.

John was bound and thrown in prison.

shackles (2)

God didn’t pave John’s life with comfort or even rescue him from certain death at the hand of King Herod.

At the request of the daughter of Herodias, John’s head was placed on a platter.

The man who had once witnessed the Holy Spirit descending on the Lamb of God was left alone in a prison and beheaded.

This man who Christ claims to be the greatest among any man ever born to a woman was allowed to be alone, bound, humiliated, and violently killed.

John came not for himself, but for Christ.

But certainly, in those long hours alone with his thoughts, John grew lonely, frustrated, desperate, questioning and afraid, questioning, “Where are you, God?”

What kind of place do you find yourself today? Are you bound? Are you held captive against your will? Is a death sentence hanging over your head, literally? You most likely do not face what John faced, and yet, you question and doubt, “God, where are you?” In our small inconveniences and our heart-wrenching sorrows we mistakenly question that God’s presence has left and if what He’s doing in our lives is really for our good.

Why do we think it strange when we face adversity when this most praised man faced unimaginable strain?

Have we forgotten our purpose? Have we been so consumed with self that we’ve lost the purpose of our existence? Have we neglected to remember that God created us for His purpose, for intimacy with Him, for His glory?

John, came not for himself.

Jesus came not to be served either…but rather, came to serve.

It all goes so against our flesh, our culture and our selfishness. We want to serve, we want to be available, we want to point others to Christ but beyond inconvenience and suffering…well, that’s another story. Serve, yes. Suffering, no thank you.

John devoted himself and his life to pointing others to the coming Messiah.

And the Messiah didn’t save him in a sense that he went and broke him out of prison…though he could have …

no, he allowed the hardship, the chains and the death.

But what was waiting for John far surpassed anything he’d ever experienced here on earth and he knew that.

It wasn’t for this kingdom he was living for – it was the one to come.

It wasn’t for today, for comfort’s sake, for himself that he lived…

it was drenched and fleshed out with an eternal mindset.

How different our lives would be if we would get that.

How vastly different would our contentment level be if we would be satisfied with the truth that this won’t last but  everything and anything we do for eternity…now, that’s a different story.

It can be hard to understand why God allows our suffering and why sometimes, He doesn’t stop it.

I don’t very often, have any answers for much that has to do with suffering…or my own pain…but I do know that although I don’t understand and I don’t have answers, I do know that I can trust Him with all that He is doing – even when it looks and feels so dark.

I wonder if John ever, in his weakest, most vulnerable moments felt so deserted, so alone, and shelved.

If he did and if he questioned we don’t see that in Scripture – what God does allow us to see is what would be coming for John – the glory awaiting him.

We don’t know what’s coming for us either.

We cannot comprehend the joy, the immersion of his presence and just how that will consume us.

We can understand loneliness, sorrow and tears but we have not really suffered as so many have suffered.

We have not been in chains. We have not been beaten. We have not been beheaded.

But the storm is rising on the horizon. How much longer do we have before we know those all too well?

I know that we should not live in fear. We should not cower in the corner and we should not throw our selves out in defeat – because it’s just too hard, it’s not worth it and it means sacrifice.

Jesus came not for Himself – He came to be a servant. If He, being God, didn’t ask to be served, why then, should we?

What are you asking God to rescue you from? Is there a eternal purpose in your suffering?

You may never know ’til you take your last breathe, but you can be certain that God knows and He knows what He’s doing.

Whatever it is…no matter how difficult it is or impossible it seems…

five minutes in heaven and it will be so distant from you – it will be so worth it.

You will be rescued one day, you will be removed from the source of your tears and you’ll see then, just what His purpose was.

Worthy is the Lamb of God who has taken the sins of the world – all glory, honor and praise are to be his!

 

 

 

Share

404

May friendship, encouragement and grace abound!