John the Baptist was going through personal difficulties after his active ministry was put to an abrupt stop when he confronted Herod about his infidelity. Herod in turn arrested John. There is no proof of what type of imprisonment he suffered, whether it was house arrest or in a dungeon, but we do know that he was isolated in a place where he could not longer view the works of Christ.
While John the Baptist was isolated, his disciples came to visit, and they were not able to do anything to be able to help his discouragement and doubt. He asked two of his disciples to go on a mission to ask Christ a specific question: “Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?”
In the last article we discussed Part 1 of Christ’s response to John the Baptist’s heavy question, which included them taking the good news of the works of He was doing outside John’s imprisonment. These answers can be found in Matthew 11.
The second part, includes a blessing with a condition.
John’s disciples also were dispatched to tell him, “And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.“
Offended according to the Strong’s Concordance comes from the Greek word skandalizo.
- to entrap
- to trip up, or entice to sin
- apostasy or displeasure
- The thought comes with it, “to cause a person to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey.*“
Jesus encouraged John not to distrust or desert Him.
Please do not allow yourself to be offended by how God is working outside of your situation. It is not about whether He loves you or not, because He does, it is about your choice not to become offended. Our difficulties in ministry and this life will come (Matthew 18:7), but Christ’s desire is that you do not become offended by them. Nothing should stand in our way to make us distrust or desert our Saviour.
Many of us are familiar with Paul’s writings and about the deserter, Demas, although it does not specifically say that he was offended in Christ, he left God’s work to follow after worldly desires. (Read about Demas in Colossians 4:14, Philemon 1:24, and 2 Timothy 4:10.) Our offenses, if not properly managed with Biblical answers, will lead us away from our ministry and calling to find earthly comfort apart from God’s will for our lives. Guard your heart to keep your heart from wandering.
Another Biblical example is in the story of the sower and the seed. One of the portions of ground was sown and this is said about it in Mark 4:16,17 “And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.”
We do not want to have shallow roots enduring only until the persecutions and trials come into our lives, deserting God. Even though some pruning may happen in our lives we should strive to be the person whose heart is good fruitful ground.
THINK ABOUT THIS: Your present discouragement or doubt can be only as temporary as you will let it be. There is joy when you are able to rejoice with those who rejoice. There is maturity when you can look beyond the bars of your jail cell and understand that hope really does exist beyond this situation and this life because we are blessed if we do not become offended. God allows us to choose fruitfulness.
John the Baptist’s end was going to be an unexpected death at the hands of wicked women, calling for him to be beheaded and his head to be brought before Herodias and her daughter. The Bible does not say what John the Baptist’s emotional status was before the beheading. I hope that as he received Christ’s personal message to him from his disciples, that he rallied with hope for eternity and for the souls of the people in the world who would believe and repent on Jesus. I hope he made the choice not to become offended and chose the blessings of God.
Choosing not to be offended is not easy. It means it will take forgiveness. It means you will have to choose to be a blessing even when you may not feel like it. It means you may have to go the extra mile or strive to the peacemaker. It means you have the freedom to choose to love God, like Job, no matter what. It means you may have to overcome fears or walk away from hopeful expectations. It means that doors may be shut as you wait for the next one to open. It means you must be a living sacrifice, laying down yourself so you can receive God’s blessings.
Our God loves us more than we can imagine, but yet so often we forsake him like the disciples did that day of His crucifixion. We do not have to add to our own sorrow by adding offense to our situation. When you do not understand or you can see clearly the reason for your discouragement and doubt, love the Lord and desire to seek His face and know His presence. You will be all the better for it because God is fashioning you into the image of His Son.
Be confident in God’s workings in your life even if you cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel because, if you’re still here then God’s still performing His work in you.
Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: Philippians 1:6