Mat 11:1 Now when Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and proclaim his message in their cities. 2 When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples 3 and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” 4 Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. 6 And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.” 7 As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? 8 What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. 9 What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written, ‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ 11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John came; 14 and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. 15 Let anyone with ears listen!
Many people were watching Jesus: his disciples, John the Baptist, John’s disciples, and the crowds. And they all ask this question of Jesus: “Are you the One?” This question speaks of the need of the rural people of Judea (and especially John the Baptist) for a Messianic hero who would rise against the Roman rulers and sweep them out of the Holy Land. Jesus, on the other hand, speaks of himself as “more than a prophet” – as one who comes to resist the violence that seeks to take the kingdom of heaven by force.
Violence is often the tool used when people express social and political disagreement. This is the choice currently evident in Syria and Gaza and Iraq. This is the choice of the people in Ferguson, USA, and of the police, and some miners, in Marikana, South Africa. The way of Jesus is different: he points to the “way of Elijah” – which is the tougher, long term commitment to building the kingdom of God by means of justice, mercy and obedience to God.
Let us commit ourselves to living the values of God in all our human relationships – both as individuals and as nations. And when powerful people use force to cling to power, let use courageously refuse to replace peaceful protest with violence.
He has sounded forth the trumpet
that shall never call retreat,
He is sitting out the hearts of men
before His judgment seat,
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him!
Be jubilant, my feet,
Our God is marching on
Glory! Glory ! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah
Glory! Glory ! Hallelujah! His truth is marching on
Lyrics Julia Ward Howe Music William Steffe 1861
43 Jesus is the Way
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Reuben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 266.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day.