Wednesday, September 9, 2009

An Example of Compassion

God's wisdom, however, is shown to be true by its results. (Matthew 11:19 GNB)
When Jesus uttered this statement, He was responding to an inquiry by John the Baptist. John was in prison and had sent some of his own followers to ask Jesus if He really was the Christ.

Imagine that! This is the same John who had seen the Spirit descend on Jesus like a dove and had heard a voice from heaven declaring, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. " (Matthew 3:16-17)

This is the same John who had said, "I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?" (Matthew 3:14) So at one point in time, John had known who Christ was.

The Bible doesn't say why after all this time John had felt the need to ask. I'm sure prison was not a pleasant place. Perhaps the loss of freedom had him depressed. Sitting there with nothing to do but think, maybe he had begun to doubt. Again, the Bible doesn't say, but instead it tells us how Jesus responded.
Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: (5) The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. (6) And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me. (Matthew 11:4-6)
The word "offended" there is misleading. It is actually a word meaning "trip up" or "stumble". Thayer's Greek Definitions defines it as "to cause a person to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey." Jesus, seeing John's doubt, reminded him "again" of the great things he had seen and encouraged him to believe.

But He didn't stop there. Jesus didn't just speak to John and leave it at that. This inquiry had taken place in front of a crowd of people. Verse seven plainly refers to there being "multitudes". No, Jesus also defended him in front of the people. He reminded the people of who John was and what God had done through him.
What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? (8) But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses. (9) But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. (10) For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. (11) Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist... (Matthew 11:7-11)
I find this so amazing. Jesus took the time to protect John's image in the eyes of the people. Maybe as He stood there, He saw what they were thinking, "What is this? Who WAS John anyway? And if John doubts, then who IS this Jesus?"

(13) For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. (14) And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come. (15) He who has ears to hear, let him hear! (16) “But to what shall I liken this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their companions, (17) and saying: ‘ We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; We mourned to you, and you did not lament.’ (18) For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ (19) The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is justified by her children.” (Matthew 11:13-19 NKJV)
This brings us back to the statement at the end of verse 19. The King James says "wisdom is justified of her children." I especially like the Good News Bible translation, "God's wisdom, however, is shown to be true by its results."

Jesus was saying, "Look at John's results. Look at mine."

Jesus ends His statements with a prayer. I call your attention to verses 28-30.

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (29) Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. (30) For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)
The phrase "meek and lowly" is also translated "gentle and humble" (CEV) and "gentle and without pride" (BBE). In other words, it was not out of pride that Jesus had made these statements to John or about John, or even about Himself. It was compassion.

Multiple times in the Gospels is Jesus said to have been "moved with compassion." At this moment in John's life it was no different. Yet even greater than that, in this final statement He extended His compassion to those in the crowd as well. "Take and learn of me," He said, "...and find rest unto your souls."

The more we learn about Jesus, the more we seek Him, the more rest we will find (Psalms 23) and the more strength we will receive. After all, Jesus gave Himself in the ultimate act of compassion.
For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. (Romans 5:6)

Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

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