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Impatient with His Agenda

I remember the first time I saw my mother cry. She told me that she had bumped her head. But I suspect there was a deeper reason. Whatever the cause, her tears disturbed me. We are not used to thinking of our parents as vulnerable or fragile.

We may have similar feelings as we read John’s questions for Jesus. Word had reached John in prison about what Jesus had been doing. The report did not match John’s expectations. He had predicted Jesus would come with fiery judgment. According to John, Jesus was an axe aimed at the root of every tree that didn’t produce good fruit (Matt. 3:10). John had said that the one who came after him would burn the chaff with unquenchable fire (Matt. 3:12). Yet judgment had not come, and here was John, languishing in Herod’s dungeon, the political prisoner of a wicked king (Luke 3:19–20).

Jesus confirmed reports that John had heard—in language drawn from Isaiah 35:4–6. John’s expectation wasn’t false, but one-sided. John had foreseen the day of judgment, but this was the day of grace. Jesus’ words set His ministry within a larger context and included the gentle reproof: “Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me” (v. 6). Jesus pointed out that John was the one Malachi had predicted would prepare the way for the Messiah (Mal. 3:1; 4:5). Jesus not only paid tribute to John, He also identified Himself as the Messiah. John was not the only one impatient with Jesus’ agenda. After praising John, Jesus went on to compare “this generation” to children who would not be satisfied with anything He did.

>> This is Good Friday, the day when many Christians commemorate the crucifixion of the Savior. The hardness of heart that Jesus criticizes in today’s passage eventually ripened to murderous hate. But the suffering He endured created the opportunity for Christ’s greatest surprise: His Resurrection.

BY Dr. John Koessler

Dr. John Koessler, who retired as professor emeritus from Moody Bible Institute, formerly served in the division of applied theology and church ministry. John and his wife Jane enjoy living in a lakeside town in Michigan. A prolific writer, John’s books include The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody), and True Discipleship (Moody). John is a contributing editor and columnist for Today in the Word.

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