THE JESUS I DIDN’T KNOW: THE COMFORTER

INTRODUCTION

How well do you know Jesus? We all like to think we know Jesus pretty well. I’ve had close to fifty years of wonderful, sweet communion with Jesus. I’ve devoted over forty years of my life to studying and teaching His Word. I’m talking about going back to the original languages and learning as much as I can about Jewish culture, institutions, and beliefs. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a Know-It-All. And you can ask my kids: I’m not inerrant or infallible. But still, knowing what I know, I’d like to think I know Jesus pretty good. To my pleasant surprise, however, I don’t know Jesus as good as I think I do. To this day, He still shows me more about Himself. Here, let me give you some snippets of the Jesus I never knew.

THE COMFORTER IN LIFE’S DISAPPOINTMENTS

Hi guys. I wish I had some uppity-up things to say to you today. I’d like to cheer you up. But I’m in need of cheering up myself. I’m about to lose my head. Literally. And, as you can imagine, I’m not too thrilled about that. I guess I’m getting ahead of myself. Here. Let me start over and introduce myself.

I’m John the Baptist. And here’s my story. As many of you know, I’m the forerunner of Messiah. For those of you who don’t know what that means, for hundreds of years our prophets told us about the Messianic King who would come to Israel and rule the world. Messiah had to be preceded by His forerunner. This was the guy that went before Messiah and announced His coming. We Jews have been longing for Messiah for hundreds of years. When the forerunner appeared we knew Messiah was not far behind.

Well, before I was born, an angel appeared to my dad while he was serving as a priest in the holy place in the Temple in Jerusalem (Luke 1:5-17). He told dad that I would be Messiah’s forerunner! I was special! God Himself trained me in the desert where I took up residence. When it came time for me to make my move, I started preaching and baptizing in the Jordan River. Then I told everybody the great news. Messiah has come! I even know who He is! He’s Jesus of Nazareth! So, from an advertising and PR point of view, you can say I’m a pretty important fellow. I’m a pivotal figure in Jewish history (if I may humbly say so myself).

We all knew that Messiah would be a political, militant, conquering King. He would come to Israel, free us from Roman domination, and restore Jewish independence and sovereignty. From here He would go on, with us as His followers, to conquer and rule the world. He would establish the worldwide kingdom of God on the earth. And we, of course, would help Him rule the world. We lived for this dream and this day! And now that Jesus was in our midst we were pumped up with excitement and the realization that we were uniquely blest by God to live in such a signal moment of history as now.

I was at the crest of my popularity when Herod Antipas caught me baptizing in Galilee and had me arrested. Herod was the Governor at that time and, seeing that he was in an adulterous marriage to his sister-in-law Herodias, I spoke out against him and that’s why he busted me and threw me in the dungeon at his palace fortress in Machaerus.

If you’ve never been in solitary confinement in a cold, damp, dark dungeon you wouldn’t know or understand the doubts that began to run rampant in my mind. Jesus was the Messiah. I knew that beyond all shadow of a doubt when I saw the Spirit of God descend upon Him like a dove after I baptized Him in the Jordan River. But persecution and suffering have a way of getting you to doubt things that you never imagined you would doubt. Jesus was out there. I’m in here. Why hasn’t He come to free me from his hell hole in the ground? He wouldn’t begin the liberation of Israel without me, would He? Even if He did, He’d still come and get me, wouldn’t He? I am, after all, His PR man. He needs me! I served Him faithfully. I even put my neck on the line for Him. No way is He going to let me rot or hang in here! But if He’s the Messiah with the power to conquer the world, why hasn’t He come for me? Why am I still in here? Could it be He’s not the Messiah after all?

When I couldn’t bear it any longer, I sent some of my disciples who had come to visit me to go find Jesus and ask Him if He really was the Messiah.

When my disciples came back a few days later you should’ve seen them. They were all pumped up about Jesus! He did all sorts of miracles that you wouldn’t believe. The blind saw. The deaf heard. The dumb spake. The paralyzed moved. Demon-possessed people were set free. Jesus did all these, and more, for my disciples to see. He was doing exactly what the prophets said Messiah would do when He comes to Israel. The miracles were Jesus’ way of letting me know that, yes, He was still the Messiah! Then He told my disciples, Go and tell John what you see. And give him this message from me, Blessed is he who doesn’t stumble over Me (Luke 7:19-23).

You’d think I’d be jumping over chairs with jubilation about the miracles Jesus did. I was. I was relieved to hear it straight from Him that He was truly the Messiah. But, and this is what I asked my disciples, Did He say anything about coming to get me? Is He going to get me out of here? Is He on His way? When is He going to rescue me from Herod’s dungeon?

The jubilance of Messiah’s miracles was instantly changed into a deafening silence. Somberness instantly set in and heaviness hung in the air. It was as if death itself had come into my dungeon cell riding his pale horse.

Turned out Jesus didn’t say anything about coming to rescue me. If He was going to do it you’d think He would’ve said something to my disciples. His silence was ominous. 

Even more ominous were His words the longer I thought about them: Blessed is he who doesn’t stumble over Me. They were cryptic at first. But the longer I thought about them the realization finally hit me: Jesus wasn’t going to come to the rescue! Why in the world not? That didn’t make any sense at all to me! Jesus needs me! I did my part serving Him! He owes me! You bet I was starting to stumble over Him. He was tripping me up royally! I was a fuming and a flipping! God, I just don’t understand what you’re doing! And why!

After I settled down and dried my tears, the words of Jesus came back to me. One word in particular. Blessed. It’s as if Jesus knew I was going to flip out over Him not coming to get me. He would still bless me if I could just pull myself together and stay loyal to Him no matter what. Even in His abandonment He would bless me. I won’t be resentful or hateful. I won’t turn my back on Him. I’ll be blessed.

As you would understand, Jesus’ answer was not the one I wanted to hear. I fully expected Him to tell me He was on His way. He’d get me out of this hole in the ground. Freedom would be my reward for my faithfulness. Of course I was disappointed. Big time! I thought God let me down. He didn’t come through for me. He was a No-Show when I really needed Him the most.

But I had it all wrong! It was what I wanted, not what God wanted. Anytime we want things our way we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment because God doesn’t always do things our way. He sees the big picture. He knows what’s good for us. And He always does what’s good for us. Yeah, He may disappoint at times. But even in disappointment He speaks comfort. He’s the Comforter. And He knows how to cheer us up if only we’d listen.

Want to feel better? Take it from me. Listen to God speak and you’ll be feeling a whole lot better a whole lot sooner. Stick to your ways and you’ll be in the dumps. Trust God’s goodness, let Him have His way with you, and you’ll be victorious over life’s disappointments.

I thought I had Jesus all figured out. He was gonna come get me because He was the political, militant, conquering King. He was. He still is. But He’s also the sin-saving Savior, the spiritual Messiah as the prophets also prophesied (which all of us Jews conveniently forgot). We wanted our King! God would give Him to us. But first He would give us our Suffering Servant and Sin-Savior. He wasn’t going to rescue me because He wasn’t going to reign. The cross had to come before the crown. I didn’t understand this at first. But now I do.

I’m going to lose my head. That’s a tough way to go out. But I’m going to stay faithful and true to the end because I want to be blessed. I know you probably won’t understand me, but I value faithfulness now more than freedom. I value loyalty more than life itself.

I thought I had more to do for Messiah. I guess not. God’s done with me. I’ll die holding my head up high, privileged to have been Messiah’s forerunner. I won’t get a chance to read my obit, but I know Jesus will say something good about me. I AM blessed. So don’t feel sorry for me. The good thing about losing my head is I’ll be with God in glory. And you can’t be any more blessed than that!

1 Comment

  1. November 6, 2012 at 12:17 PM

    Very interesting read.


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