I was reading in Matthew 11 this morning. Jesus has finished up some teaching and is traveling about to continue teaching and preaching in the twelve disciples’ hometowns. John had heard about what the works of Christ, and so He sent some of his disciples to ask, “Are You the Coming One or do we look for another?” This was Jesus’ response:
“Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”
I am sure there are 1,000 sermons to be preached on these few verses, but a couple of thoughts struck me today in particular. First, Jesus did not answer by saying “Yes, I am the Son of God. Here’s my badge;” or “here’s a special trick.” Or, “Pass me a glass of water and I’ll hook you up with a vintage 3 BC Merlot.” He answered instead by saying what He was doing. He was hanging out with people who, in many days and ages, as in His, have it pretty rough going. There weren’t a ton of jobs advertised on the careerbuilder scroll for people who couldn’t see, or hear, or walk. And people we not really keen on having a cup of tea with a person with leprousy, either. Yet these were the people Jesus was seeking out. He was changing their lives, healing their diseases, and even touching people who probably hadn’t been touched in a really, really long time. He was also preaching the gospel to the poor, which would’ve included a lot of folks from the above categories.
What’s all this mean? Well, instead of saying who He was, He chose to say what He was doing. Jesus felt His actions, His works, His miracles … those were the proof that He was the One they were waiting for. If anyone comes up to you and says, “I’m an accountant” and then struggles to figure out a 10% tip after lunch, you might start to wonder.
Now what does this mean for us? Two thoughts. First, if we are Christians, then the “proof should be in the pudding.” People should be able to identify us as Christians, not by our cool t-shirts, but by our lifestyles. What are we doing that points toward a higher call? Second, we should NOT be trying to identify ourselves as Christians by what we DON’T do. Jesus didn’t say, “I go to temple every Sabbath and I don’t get drunk. I have the Pentateuch memorized and I knew all the Psalms before I was 8.” Jesus said, “I am hanging out with the people that need love, and know it. People who are well don’t need a doctor – I am hanging out with people who are sick.”
My list at the moment doesn’t look as much like Jesus’ to-do list as I would like it to. I pray that the Lord will give me the grace to do miracles by His power and for His name — that the blind would see, that the lame would walk. In the meantime, I still have the opportunity to serve the hurting and oppressed in the world in whatever way I can. To preach the gospel to the poor and poor in spirit. And those who aren’t offended by me ministering in this capacity will be blessed.
Seize today as an opportunity to rethink your to-do list, and begin to shine.