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Luke 7:23, and blessed is the one who is not offended {fallen away} by me.

It is a test of our faith to do the will of God and yet not be found fallen away in the end. John’s doubts were reasonable and human. No one did more for the oncoming ministry of Jesus than John. Without thinking of himself he turned over his entire ministry to Jesus. He selflessly lauded Christ at every turn, and never blinked when it came time to sacrifice. John was a gifted and powerful orator. So much so that people would venture to remote parts of the desert just to hear him preach. Yet, when he was asked, “It was all about Jesus.” However, even the strongest heart can have doubts. That is what leads us to Jesus statement in Luke 7:23.
Two Greek words of significance here are “makarios” and “skandalon.” They are translated “blessed” and “falling away or offended.” To be blessed (makarios) Biblically is to be in the presence of God. Being used by God is the ultimate gift and valuation of our own selves. Living for Him takes us to the highest plain of human existence. To live before the face of God and do His will puts us in the place we were created to occupy. Luke tells us that the man who lives this way is blessed.

The other of the two words (skandalon) means to “fall away.” Literally it means, “a cause of stumbling.” Everything in life is about “falling away” from God or “living in His presence.” Every day we make the decision to stumble or stand. We elect to belong to God, or to Satan. The interesting point here is that that falling away has to do with falling into a spiritual trap – a trap of doubt, despair, and unfaithfulness. When things aren’t going the way we plan, where do we find ourselves? Do I doubt the power, rightness, and sovereignty of the Living God or do I take steps in faith and not by sight? Do I call into question the promises of God, or do I trust the word of the only eternal being who loves me more than the life of His own Son?

One of Satan’s most powerful tools is to cause doubt in the heart of the believer. Satan tries to use the will of God against us. It’s too hard! It doesn’t make sense! Why me! Pledging your life is one thing, to give it is an entirely different matter. When our allegiance is tested with our own blood, we might find occasion to hesitate. John was headed to martyrdom. His preaching was about to cause him to lose his life.

Jesus never forgot the sacrifices of His cousin and prophet and fellow soldier. He held John with great respect and love. He knew the heart of the man who now faced the end of the journey of his life. A life lived in sacrifice, as a willing servant to a higher cause. There is a sense of rightness to God that is a paradox to the world. When living rightly ends in sacrifice it seems wrong. The right should survive and the wrong should be eliminated. Every good cowboy knows that! The white hat always wins. Don’t they? Jesus said two very important things about John. One was that there no one born of man greater than he. (John 7:28) He also said, in the same verse, that the one who was least in the kingdom of heaven was greater than he. How could a man who did so much for Jesus, end his life this way?

Jesus never diminished John or his work. It was foundational to what was to come. Jesus never wanted to lose John, but there was always a higher goal and John knew it just as Jesus did. The revelation of the kingdom is greater than any single life, or even all of the lives that have ever been. In God’s wisdom eternity surpasses the present in importance. If I truly struggle now for the kingdom, then the future has hope. If it cost me all that I have then so be it. We cannot let a spiritual trap (falling in love with the present) prevent us from seeing our real destiny. We are made for greatness that this world cannot contain. Our lives are more than the things we possess, the grandiose dreams we have, or even the comfort of rest for a night. Jesus’ answer to John’s question was one of compassion and encouragement, “Luke 7:22, “And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them.” The next time you begin to doubt remember what you already know. That there is a place prepared for those who live a life of faith. (John 14:3) One way or another I pray we see each other at home one day!