As he sat in prison waiting to suffer the wrath of Herod, reports of miracles and wonders poured in to John, known as the Baptizer. Then he dispatched messengers to Jesus. “Are you the Messiah? Or should we look for another?” Jesus responded that they should tell John about the miracles. What is perplexing to me about that is John already knew those things. The key, in my opinion, is what Jesus says in Matt. 11:6, “And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
I think Jesus is telling John, “Yes, I am the Messiah. Yes, I am performing miracles. But I am not going to deliver you. You will die. Blessing comes to those who are faithful and do not fall away.”
I continue to have to search for the news of Mali on the internet. The Tuaregs have declared an end to the military actions they have taken. But the more militant Islamists that fought beside them are not through, the news reports say. There are reports of thousands upon thousands who have been displaced from their homes. There are reports of extreme Muslim law being imposed. There are rumors of rape and pillage. So what does all of this mean?
Yesterday, I raised the question, did we do enough? Today I am reflecting on whether we prepared the new believers in our village for more serious persecution. Already they were mocked by their neighbors. Already they were told, “When you Christians die, we will leave your body to rot in the field. We will not bury you.” Already they faced economic sanctions. Some of the extremists, the Wahabis, threatened more serious persecution. But now it seems a very real possibility of more serious suffering looms. Helpless this morning to say anything directly, I can only pray. Yet, I know that it is not “only pray.” It is the reality of knowing that prayer is my most valuable and powerful tool to help all the time.
I have reflected on the relationship of missions to politics this morning. Did the interference in Libya to ultimately kill Qaddafi have a direct impact on Mali?
Would the rebel Tuaregs have been able to do what they are doing if outsiders had not interferred in Libya? I have no idea. I just know that every action on the African continent brings some form of “re-action” and most of the time westerners (me included) have no real understanding of the impact we sometimes make.
And what if it were us? What if we were suddenly faced with the imposition of extremist law from some terrorist group that managed to take over? Would you be offended because of Jesus? Would I? We say, “No, we will be faithful, no matter what the cost.” That is what Peter said, but then he denied Jesus when questioned by a young girl. SO how faithful are we in the small things of our daily lives? Do we stand straight for Jesus all the time? What if, like John the Baptizer, things don’t turn out the way we hope, even though Jesus could change the circumstances if He chose to. “Oh, God our Father, keep us true and faithful.”
Today is Maundy Thursday. Jesus warned the disciples in the Upper Room, that Thursday evening, “All of you will fall away.” God help us be strong.