My gracious friend:
I pray you are enjoying our little journey through Matthew’s gospel as much as I am. And in preparing the radio programs and these monthly newsletters I find that even after all my years in the ministry still our scriptures offer new and inspiring insights. There is never an end to what God can and will reveal of Himself and His kingdom when one is open to His word. This is never more so than in this gospel.
In the eleventh chapter we find John the Baptist deep in the dungeon of the fortress of Machaeus and he is having uncertainties about Jesus. So he sends some of his disciples to Jesus to ask, “Are you He who is to come, or shall we look for another?” (Mt. 11:3) John had prophesied such great and wonderful things of the coming Messiah. But now Herod Antipas has locked him away ending his ministry, and Jesus is not raising some unbeatable army. Instead He is preaching and healing the people of the rural villages of Galilee. But is this what the “Great One” would do?” Would the Messiah ignore important religious activities like fasting, and consort with the undesirables, and sinners? Where is the winnowing fork and fire? Where is the judgment on those that abused Israel’s faith? Where is the due justice on Rome and Herod? And where is his vindication and release from prison?
Jesus will not directly address John’s query, but says, “Go 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 he that takes no offense at me” (Mt. 11:5-6). John knew scriptures and would recognize the passage, and that Jesus has significantly added, “raising the dead” to the prophecy of Isaiah. And he would know that although healing of the blind is not found at all in the Old Testament, it is found in Isaiah’s prophecy concerning the Messiah. Why?
The healing the blind was a very significant part of Jesus’ ministry, for He does it far more than any other healing. Yet is such healing of the blind also a descriptive message as well? It does not take much imagination to see it as illustrating that Jesus also intends to bring sight to the spiritually blind. And then can we not infer that those healed of lameness is also illustrative of Jesus making us able to move spiritually, those unclean, are those stained by sin and now made clean, those who are deaf is as well those now able to hear spiritually, and those spiritually dead now made alive. And is this not still to be our ministry? Christianity is to express the same compassion as Jesus for those He saw without a shepherd, and in both physical and spiritual need.
The point our Lord is making is, of course, He is the ONE! And He will add, “blessed are those that takes no offense in Me.” He is merciful, but judgment will come. And as He is the One many still take offense with Him, and they have taken offense with Christianity. He would warn the towns of Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum, “For if the mighty works had been done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes” (Mt. 11:21)? Is this a warning for our world as well? Christianity still opens eyes, ears, cleanses from sin, and makes the dead alive. If it would be more tolerable on judgment day for Tyre and Sidon, what about Los Angeles, New York, Toronto, London, Paris, or your hometown? It is quite an indictment. Much of our society ignores, even sneers, at the faith that has made possible our remarkable civilization, bringing such healing and wholeness. The works of Christ has been present about us for centuries. The truth is evident, so how will our society, our own communities fair on judgment day?
I hope your community is more Christian, than what I see in the very large metropolis just West of our offices here in Whittier. And as we witness the burning, bombing, and senseless attacks on our Faith worldwide, which our Lord warned us of (Lk. 21:12-19). Still as a people we have been so blessed! Centuries of the gospel proclaimed largely without obstacles, free to minister all the blessing of our faith. Yet so many refuse to see, hear, or embraced the true Messiah! “Woe to you, Chorazin, Bethsaida, or (name your town).” What it means is that we will continue to proclaim that He is the One, what is a blessing to others, because there is judgment!
May we never cease to reach out to those blind, deaf, and dead to our Lord,
Thomas Randolf Wyatt