I keep hearing over and over again about John the Baptist. Everywhere I turn, someone is preaching about him. These two messages have been my favorite recently: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34Egt30qu5E and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_bLjoLpltIM. Watch both – they are life changing!
John got his eyes off of Jesus for a moment. Since I can’t seem to escape the story of John the Baptist, I thought I’d share a little bit of it with you.
When Mary was at the beginning of her pregnancy, she went to visit her relative, Elizabeth. As she approached her, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and said that her baby, John, leaped inside of her (Luke 1:39-45). John’s connection to Jesus was so strong that he even sensed him in his mother’s womb. This is one of the coolest stories to me! The Holy Spirit came on Elizabeth and revealed that the Messiah was growing inside of her.
John’s purpose was to prepare the way for the Lord. John got to baptize Jesus and watched as the sky basically split open to confirm Jesus and launch Him into ministry. Bottom line: this dude knew who Jesus was. He had witnessed too many dramatic, miraculous signs to have any doubt that Jesus was the Messiah.
“John answered them, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless God bestows it. You heard me tell you before that I am not the Messiah, but certainly I am the messenger sent ahead of him. He is the Bridegroom, and the bride belongs to him. I am the friend of the Bridegroom who stands nearby and listens with great joy to the Bridegroom’s voice. And because of his words my joy is complete and overflows! So it’s necessary for him to increase and for me to be diminished,” John 3:27-30 TPT.
John’s passion for Jesus was wild and was unrivaled by anyone else. (In fact, he made quite a reputation for his loud, weirdo devotion to Him!) John’s ministry was pointing people to Christ and he was fulfilling his calling. Things were good!
Until John was imprisoned for calling Herod out on his sin. John found out that Jesus doesn’t move on anyone else’s timetable. He doesn’t bend towards anyone else’s agenda. Jesus was growing in popularity and changing the world. And John was stuck in chains, feeling overlooked, forgotten, unseen, and unimportant. Was Jesus not going to come and rescue this man who had done so much for him? This is one of the hardest passages in scripture for me…
“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?” (In other words, are you the Savior or not?)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.
It hurts my flesh so badly! I can understand why John was a little sassy and angry with Jesus! “Excuse me, Lord, all this popularity that you’re experiencing… yeah, you’re welcome. I helped you and now you’ve abandoned me to rot in prison. Alone. Thanks for that.” John got offended at the very ministry that he asked God to put on Jesus.
Jesus’ response is the key. “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.” Essentially, he was saying, “John, I know that you are struggling and angry, but this is what you prayed for. Your desire was that God would use me to change the world and that’s exactly what is happening.” The final blow to my flesh is this statement, “And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” Ouch. God isn’t going to run His plans by me and wait for my approval before He accomplishes His will.
John prophesied this truth himself. I quoted it earlier but here it is again, “He (Jesus) is the Bridegroom, and the bride belongs to him. I am the friend of the Bridegroom who stands nearby and listens with great joy to the Bridegroom’s voice. And because of his words my joy is complete and overflows! So it’s necessary for him to increase and for me to be diminished,” John 3:29-30 TPT. My favorite scripture in the whole Bible is that last line (here it is in another translation), “He must increase but I must decrease,” John 3:30 ESV.
My hubby and I have been praying for years for things that are taking place in our lives right now. He said to me the other day that he isn’t even able to enjoy these answered prayers because he is so overwhelmed by the work required to get it all done. We’ve been feeling overwhelmed by things we prayed for. The truth is – we get to do this.
What do we do when the stuff that we prayed for comes packaged differently than we expected? I’m sure John wasn’t thinking that his prayers for Jesus’ favor and power would mean his own personal suffering. We get off track when we take our eyes off of God and think our plans are better than His. Even Jesus had to line His desires up with God’s plan. “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done,” Luke 22:42 NIV.
This is what Jesus had to say about His friend John the Baptist after John asked if He was really the Messiah, “I tell you, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John,” Luke 7:28. God can handle all of our doubts, questions, and fears. He isn’t sitting on His throne angry at us for asking questions. He doesn’t get nervous if we ask Him, “why,” or if we are struggling. He is kind and patient with us.
Remember, the enemy’s job is to steal, kill, and destroy. He will twist the good things that God is doing in your life and tell you that you’re a victim. Is there an area in your life that is really bugging you? Is it something that you actually asked Him for? Set your gaze towards Heaven and let Him speak to you. I’m sure that He is doing way more than you can see right now.
So what do we do if we are offended?
- Repent for being offended at God (or at someone else and for giving them control in your life that doesn’t belong to them).
- Process why you let that thing get to you. See this post on Strongholds.
- Ask God to show you if there are any elements to what is going on that you actually prayed for.
- Release them and pray for their blessing.
“Lord, help me to not be offended at you when I don’t understand what You’re doing. You are good whether I feel like it or not. Help me to be faithful and to Choose Trust everyday. Amen.”