The blessing of the unoffended

Today being the feast of the Passion of St. John the Baptist, I cannot help but return to something about which I have posted before, and that is: the blessing of not being offended by however and whatever God is doing.  In Luke 7, we read about John being in prison.  He sends word to Jesus wondering, “Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?”  A puzzling thing for John, of all people, to ask.  However, considering his situation at the time, not surprising.  He’s in prison.  Jesus has not come to visit him (as far as we know).  So, as for many of us, it would be perfectly understandable to start dealing with doubts about Jesus.

I find Jesus’ answer even more astounding than John’s question.  Jesus instructs John’s disciples to go to him and recite a list of the many wonders that Jesus has done.  And then He concludes with that mysterious phrase: “And blessed is he who takes no offense at me.”   Amy Carmichael was the one who unlocked this mystery for me.  She refers to this verse many times in her writings.  I’ll let her speak for herself . . . any may each of you respond to the grace of becoming one of the “unoffended.”   She writes from the perspective of John’s thinking as he is listening to the report of his disciples:

St. John the Baptist in Prison receives Christ’s answer, (Matthew 11: 2-6)
Samuel van Hoogstraten (1627 – 1678)

Before they got to the end of the mighty things they were to tell him, his heart must have kindled with new hope: My Lord can do all that, He is doing all that, He is omnipotent.  He is my loving Lord, and He is very near.  I shall soon be free–He who is opening the prison doors of death will open my prison door.  Can you not all but hear him say it, or at least feel him think it, as he listens to the story of ‘what things’ these men of his ‘have seen and heard’?  And then, instead of a promise, a quick help, ‘Blessed is he who takes no offense at Me,’ and that was all.  But it was enough.  John accepted the unexplained.  And a light shone in the cell, and in that light he lived till his prison door opened, and he stepped across its threshold into the Land of Light.

To many of you this is a familiar word, but to me it came afresh as I read these two verses one after the other last night [Luke 7.22,23], and it spoke to me as I thought of the many who are being trusted not to be offended in Him.

Let us pray for each other to each be able to accept the unexplained and not be offended in Him.

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