Mary and I have been binge watching Leverage. It’s an action series and on almost every episode there is a rescue. Audiences love to watch a Rescue.
If the Jesus story were rewritten for a modern audience Matthew 11 might be very different. John the Baptist was in prison. He had endorsed Jesus as the messiah, Jesus was showing himself to be powerful in word and deed but John was still languishing in prison.
“11 After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in the towns of Galilee.[a]
2 When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples 3 to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”
4 Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy[b] are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 6 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”
7 As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 8 If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. 9 Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written:
“‘I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way before you.’[c]
11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence,[d] and violent people have been raiding it. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 14 And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. 15 Whoever has ears, let them hear.”
I think what John was asking in a roundabout way is, “when may I expect my release?”
The release doesn’t come. John will be beheaded while in prison.
The ministry of Jesus was predicted and described in Isaiah 61.
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”
Isaiah 61:1-3 -NIV
Jesus answer to Johns disciples was to affirm that he is the messiah and God’s plan is moving ahead. It may not look like what John was expecting. No daring prison break. No overthrow of the Roman Empire.
Sometimes the center of God’s will is to be unjustly imprisoned. It may even to be unjustly killed.
Does God know? Yes.
Does he care? Yes.
Now a question for us, can we still trust and believe in God if life is not going the way we want?
What if there is no rescue? Can God really be God if there is no rescue?
But there is a rescue for each of us. A freeing us from a prison that each one of us is in, The prison of sin.
Jesus came to set us free, free from sin. No one else can do that and without it no other freedom matters. We will all face death. Without Jesus our sin will forever separate us from God. With Jesus even the physically imprisoned can be spiritually free.
God is good. Life is sometimes hard. God is always good.
(Originally posted 2/27/2017)