Matthew 11:7-15

As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written, ‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’

Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John came; and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. Let anyone with ears listen! Matthew 11:7-15

In the 10th chapter of Matthew we heard very challenging words about what it would be like to follow Jesus. Now, in these opening verses of chapter 11 we are seeing those words in vivid color in the life and ministry of John the Baptist.

John, remember from yesterday, is in prison. Why? Because he called out the local political ruler for his selfishness and his callous disregard for doing what is right. Herod Antipas had stolen his brother Phillip’s wife, Herodias. John spoke up and Herod Antipas lashed out. John was thrown into the prison where he would later be beheaded. On a whim inspired by a drunken Antipas seeking to save face in front of his dinner guests.

John the Baptizer was an itinerant preacher. He had no money, no power, and posed no threat whatsoever to the ruling Romans. Yet he spoke words of truth against the powerful and look where it got him. It took him right where Jesus said it would. He would suffer for it.

Someone would later quip, “The truth will set us free but first it will make us miserable.” John was miserable although he had the truth on his side. Herod Antipas didn’t care about the truth; he only cared about power and his public persona. If that meant the death of an innocent man, so be it. Especially if he could find a way to manipulate a crowd against the man of truth.

Yesterday we saw another tragic episode of senseless gun violence in our country. 59 people were killed, over 500 injured. It was all over the national news. On any other normal day in our country, only about 80 people would have been killed by people wielding guns. We might have noticed the articles in our local paper (a quick check this morning in Houston listed two different drive-by shootings and a string of armed robberies.) Last week an 8 year old boy was killed in an accident at a shooting range. But none of that seems to motivate anyone to take action to do anything to change the gun culture in our country.

Because guns keep us safe.

Because guns don’t kill people, people kill people.

Because our soldiers fight and die so that we can have the freedom to keep and bear arms.

As Kurt Vonnegut might say, this the day after another day of senseless death and suffering: So it goes….

What does following Jesus look like this morning? I hope every one of the victims and their family have people in their lives who come alongside them with compassion and love for that is always how God shows up. I hope voices are raised that speak the truth against the winds of our cultural myopia and fixation with violence, against the moneyed interests of those who make and sell weapons of wanton destruction, especially against those who exploit lies that protect those interests. That will probably be enough to get them into trouble.

So it goes…

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, let John the Baptizer be a hero among us this morning. His steadfast devotion and courageous application of the truth against the powerful. His reminder to us that might does not make right. Draw near to all of those who lives were lost and disrupted by the shooting in Las Vegas. Walk with those who struggle with their next steps. May your kingdom come among us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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One Response to “Matthew 11:7-15”

  1. Sharon Says:

    Thank you for taking a stand and risking making some angry.
    The devotions you are writing from Matthew and your personal comments make the words real and applicable.
    God bless your continued healng.

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