Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Matthew 11: Reaching A Verdict

Matthew 11 contains a lot of imagery about the process of spiritual discernment - coming to a judgment or reaching a verdict about what God is doing.

For instance, the chapter begins with a fact-finding team sent to Jesus by John the Baptist as he sits in prison.  John may be confused - if Jesus is the Messiah, why hasn't the end come?  More to the point, why is John in prison?  So the question is asked of Jesus: "Are you the One?  Or should we look for another?"

Without giving a direct answer, Jesus pretty clearly says, "Yes, I am He."  He cites the miracles as evidence, and encourages John not to lose faith in Him.

After John's team leaves, Jesus uses this as a teaching moment - what do people think about John?  What do they think of Jesus?  As He points out, John was viewed as a freak for living such a rustic life in the wilderness.  And Jesus has been judged to be a worldly sell-out, since He is not practicing a lot of asceticism, or self-denial.  Some people are just never satisfied!

The spiritual discernment of Jesus' audience is questioned.  Jesus calls out the towns and villages where He has been working His miracles, telling them that they are liable for greater judgment because of the work they have witnessed.  Had some of the Old Testament towns that suffered extreme punishment for their wickedness been given the opportunity to see and hear what the New Testament towns saw, they would have repented and changed their ways.  A radical call to reform is the subtext of Jesus' words.

Spiritual pride can often get in the way of spiritual discernment.  At the conclusion of this chapter, Jesus points out that those who think they are intelligent and wise in this world's eyes have missed the point of who He is; it is the "infants" who have seen Jesus for who He really is.

No comments:

Post a Comment