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December 3, 2012

Why Bad Things Happen to Good People?

Why did Jesus Refuse to Save John the Baptist?

John the Baptist was the first prophet in the New Testament to introduce Jesus to the world. They were cousins. His ministry was based primarily on being the forerunner for Christ. Everything that John the Baptist did was to prepare the world for Jesus’ ministry. Even when people tried to instigate disagreements between his disciples and Jesus disciples, John the Baptist humbly declared, "He (Jesus) must increase and I must decrease." John told the people that he was not the Messiah. He had to step aside and let Jesus claim the limelight. John the Baptist was very comfortable with his decision to step aside for Jesus. He knew in the Spirit world of the holiness of God, Jesus was older and bigger than he was. John refused to allow any celebrity competition with Jesus because he knew who was the boss.

Jesus Answered John’s Delegations

Jesus knew John the Baptist was in trouble because King Herod had thrown him in jail for telling the truth. He told King Herod it was not lawful for him to steal his brother’s wife. While in prison, John sent messengers to Jesus and asked him, "Are you the Coming One (Messiah), or perhaps we should look for another?" (St. Matthew 11:3). Knowing Jesus, he tended to answer a question with another question. Jesus said to the inquiry delegations sent by John the Baptist, "Go and tell John the things which you hear and see. The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them" (St. Matthew 11:4-5). In responding to John the Baptist delegations, Jesus asked them to see the works he was doing. These works were testifying for him. He was telling John the Baptist that he should look at the work that he (Jesus) was doing as a testimony of who he was.

Today, many people will place more importance on their earthly relationships than on their heavenly relationship with Christ. What we idolize is what we worship, even our human relationships. By placing human relationships ahead of the Lord is telling Jesus he is not as important to us. From the Bible history, great messengers of God dedicated their lives primarily to serve God’s purpose. John the Baptist was one of those faithful messengers.

Jesus Sent a Coded Message to John

Then Jesus sent a coded message to John the Baptist saying, "And blessed is he who is not offended because of me" (St. Matthew 11:6). This was the same Jesus who used the testimony of his miracles through his hands as the evidence that he was the Messiah. Yet, he sent a coded message to John that he was not coming to rescue him from jail, or to save him from his fate. I’m sure both John the Baptist and Jesus knew the horrible fate awaiting John the Baptist. That was why Jesus sent the coded message to him. John therefore knew he was going to be beheaded in prison. He was a prophet who knew what was going to happen to him. John therefore accepted his fate without sending any more questions to Jesus.

How do you feel when you are innocent of a crime, and the only person who could have helped you to seek justice, or perhaps rescue you, only left you alone to your fate? At times you wonder whether all the efforts and emotions over the years placed on seeking justice will eventually deliver the emotional closure. Do you want justice, vengeance, or God’s mercy for yourself?

Jesus Praised John the Baptist

To show that Jesus was not angry with John, he praised his forerunner after the delegations left. When John’s messengers left, Jesus started to brag about John the Baptist saying, "Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist" (St. Matthew 11:11).

I’m sure Jesus praised John before the people, just in case some reporters were at the scene ready to report a skewed version of the story about what happened between Jesus and John the Baptist at that particular time. Perhaps some people may be confused like us today. Jesus gave us a lot to chew!

Jesus Dropped Another Bombshell on John

In the midst of this mystery when Jesus refused to go rescue John the Baptist from prison, Jesus dropped another bombshell by announcing to the people who John was. Jesus said, "And if you are willing to receive it, he (John the Baptist) is the Elijah who is to come" (St. Matthew 11:14).

Jesus statement helped to explain the reason why he could not have rescued John the Baptist even if he (Jesus) wanted to. What Jesus was telling the people was that John’s fate of being beheaded paved way for the crucifixion of Jesus on the cross. This was why Jesus declared that John the Baptist was actually Elijah to come. The same thing that happened to the forerunner (John) will happen to the Messiah (Jesus). Both men have their destiny and fate intertwined – they were to be martyred. This was the critical reason why Jesus could not have rescued John the Baptist from the hand of King Herod. John the Baptist had to suffer the same way as the person he was a forerunner of. Jesus would die on the cross, John the Baptist would be beheaded. When Jesus resurrected, he told a couple of his disciples on the way to Emmaus that, "Should Jesus not suffer all these things and to enter into his glory?"(St. Luke 24:26). John the Baptist, in the process of him entering into his glory with Jesus, had to suffer and die as a martyr.

Was John the Baptist Elijah?

In another mystery, this statement made by Jesus identifying John the Baptist as Elijah to come was contrary to what John the Baptist said about himself. When people asked John the Baptist who he was, he said, "I am not Elijah" (St. John 1:21). When they pressed John to tell them who he was, his answer cleared the mystery. John said, "I am the voice of the one crying in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord as the prophet Isaiah said" (St. John 1:23).

The point John was making like any messenger of God was that the mission God sent them tended to define who the messengers were. God changed the name of Abram to Abraham after God made the declaration of his mission. Similarly, Saul became Paul after Jesus made the declaration of his mission. The name given to a divine messenger defines the mission on earth. The name defines the essence of the mantle allocation by God to a messenger. Inside such mantle consists everything the messenger needs to complete the mission for God’s purpose.

Furthermore, this seemingly contradiction between Jesus and John the Baptist also elucidate the differentiation between a human spirit and a human soul. Every person born on this earth has a distinctive soul and very unique to that person. However, the human "spirit-bus" is the vehicle that people travel. The human spirit enshrouds the human soul. Every one of God’s messengers has a spirit-bus associated with the mantle God handed to each of them relevant to their ministry and divine purpose on earth. Inside the human spirit is the receptacle for the Holy Spirit. This mantle could have been shared, or used by other messengers that preceded them in life. The Bible also said, "John the Baptist will come in the spirit and power of Elijah" (St. Luke 1:17). It did not say John would come in the soul of Elijah. The soul body is unique to each person. So, Jesus was correct when he said John was Elijah because they both shared the same spirit-bus as a shared mantle defining their ministry and mission. John was also right when he said he was not Elijah because his soul (John) was distinctive even though he shared spirit mantle with another messenger.

When Bad Thing Happens, is it Really Bad?

It is very difficult for us to justify the death of a young child dying of an incurable disease. It is very difficult for us to justify the death of an innocent person as the victim of a violent crime. We hurt when our loved ones are taken away by untimely death. Yet, many of us are unable to understand why somebody like John the Baptist, or even Jesus had to die such a cruel death. The resounding answer was given by Jesus when he said, "Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?" (St. Luke 24:26). Just like Jesus said, people die sometimes for greater good only God can explain. The death and resurrection of Jesus bring the whole world today the gift of eternal salvation. It bothers me when people ask the irresponsible question why Jesus has to be the only way to God. Can you offer your only child as a sacrificial lamb for others? How precious is the blood on the only Son of Our Living God? Jesus said his Father did it for love! "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son" (St. John 3:16). Today’s selfish romantic love is absolutely useless without the love of Christ between a married couple. Romantic love is purely selfish while the spiritual love of God is the greatest love of all.

Man has a skewed view of death because we are only looking at here and now. At times, I wonder if keeping a loved one alive who is suffering may be one of the most selfish things we can do if God indeed is calling the person to come home. Throughout the thousands of testimonies about people who went through near death experience, or people who came out of their bodies and went to Heaven, not a single one of them failed to reveal the greatest joy of experiencing the beauty of Heaven. The joy many of them described is far greater and thousand times greater than what we call joy on earth while in this body. My question is, why should we deprive people who made the choice to cross over to the other side? We are weeping on this side because of our selfishness, the people are rejoicing on the other side away from this wretched world polluted with sins and idolatry. I just wonder if the lesson we need to learn about death is not whether God can see and even empathize with our sorrow. We need to check and be sure about our intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Such is the guaranteed passport to seeing our loved ones again in Heaven. If we choose to walk away from God because we are angry, can such an action disqualifies us from seeing our loved ones again? If you are wise, you will accept Jesus offer of eternal salvation. Such a precious gift cost God his only Son. How much is your eternal salvation going to cost you?

As a teenager, I was a member of the church choir for many years. At the funeral, we used to sing this song that baffled and pierced through my soul. Even after many years, the song still echoes in my soul.

Sleep on, beloved, sleep and take thy rest,

Lay down your head on your Savior’s chest,

We love you, but Jesus loved you even more,

Sleep on beloved, sleep on.

We trust you in your Savior’s arms,

Good night beloved, good night.

Undisputable Beauty of Heaven

A shocking statement was made by one of those who had gone through near death experience. He said that our loved ones including the children that died either at birth, or while they were young will be included as those in our welcoming party in Heaven as we approach the Gates of Heaven.

When we see the wickedness of this world, when we see the world polluted with so much diabolic cruelty and hate, how can we accept this world as paradise when there is something better beyond? Because of a better future in eternity, it is very critical as Christians that we live a better life today on earth for a better tomorrow with Jesus in Heaven. Our faith in Christ, and the way we choose to live our lives today will ultimately define our life beyond this earthly life. Everybody must die one day, some sooner than others. Don’t take the chance. Accept Jesus today!

Bad things happen to good people because there is a better life beyond the blue skies, there are beautiful roses beyond this wretched world, there is a street of gold beyond human understanding, there is a beauty of Heaven far greater than anything this world can offer, there is a paradise incomprehensible by human perception, that life is clearly defined by Our Savior Jesus Christ.

Every person has a choice. Either you make the best of the opportunity God has given to you on this earth, or you make a mockery of it and spend the rest of eternity regretting the wrong choice you made. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life, nobody comes to the father but through me" (St. John 14:6). Jesus created a FREE passageway for us to Heaven. The details remain in his Word.

By Yinka Vidal, author, Closer Walk With Jesus