Monday, April 18

Hearing God's Silence

Read Matthew 11

Max Lucado is one of my very favorite authors. I love the word pictures he paints. I once told someone this, and he said, “Ah. The guy who makes up stuff about the Bible.” He makes some broad interpretations, but they are founded in the truth of the Word. The stories do not stray either from context or spirit of the text, so I am content to let him run with it. And I will run along, because the alive and active Word of God gets my imagination spinning too.

The following text is taken from Lucado's book Applause of Heaven. Allow me to set the scene first. John the Baptist, hanging out alone in a dungeon under Herod’s castle had just sent word to Jesus: “Are you the one who has come or should we expect someone else?” This was code for, “Are you gonna get me out of here or what?”

Jesus, with great compassion for the doubts of a strong voice for his kingdom replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”

John was likely expecting something more dramatic than the sermon on the mount from the Messiah. A great and glorious takeover perhaps is what he was looking for. Instead, he received confirmation that the Kingdom of Heaven, for just a moment, was here.

I like to think of a slight smile coming over his lips as he heard what his Master said. “So that’s it. That is what the kingdom will be. That is what the king will do.”

For now he understood. It wasn’t that Jesus was silent; it was that John had been listening for the wrong answer. John had been listening for an answer to his earthly problems, while Jesus was busy resolving the heavenly ones.

That’s worth remembering next time you hear the silence of God.

If you’ve asked for a mate, but are still alone…if you’ve asked for a child, but your womb stays barren…If you’ve asked for healing, but are still hurting…don’t think God isn’t listening. He is. And he’s answering requests you aren’t even making.

Saint Teresa of Avila was insightful enough to pray. “Do not punish me by granting that wish or ask.”

The apostle Paul was honest enough to write, “We do not know what we ought to pray for.”

The fact is, John was not asking too much; he was asking too little. He was asking the Father to resolve the temporary while Jesus was busy resolving the eternal. John was asking for an immediate favor, while Jesus was orchestrating an eternal solution.

Does that mean Jesus has no regard for injustice? No. He cares about persecutions. He cares about inequities and hunger and prejudice. And he knows what it’s like to be punished for something he didn’t do. He knows the meaning of the phrase, “it just isn’t right.”

For it wasn’t right that people spit into the eyes that had wept for them. It wasn’t right that soldiers ripped chunks of flesh out of the back of their God. It wasn’t right that spikes pierced the hands that formed the earth. And it wasn’t right that the son of God was forced to hear the silence of God.

It wasn’t right. But it happened.

For while Jesus was on the cross, God did sit on his hands. He did turn his back. He did ignore the screams of the innocent.

He sat in silence while the sins of the world were placed on his Son. And he did nothing while a cry a million times bloodier than John’s echoed in the black sky: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Was it right? No.

Was it fair? No.

Was it love? Yes.

In a world of injustice, God once and for all tipped the scales in favor of hope. And he did it by sitting on his hands so that we could know the kingdom of God.

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