Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”
John the Baptist was a man after God’s heart, a paver of The Way, a herald of The Word, a servant of all.
He led a righteous life, up to and including baptizing Jesus himself. Then, when it seemed time John would get his reward, he was imprisoned by King Herod and never saw the light of day again – left to rot in a filthy, dingy, nasty cell.
He sent word to Jesus through his followers, hoping that Jesus would release him from prison, but it didn’t happen.
After languishing even longer in the King’s dungeon, John was ultimately beheaded – becoming the first martyr to die in the name of Christianity.
Looking at this from a human perspective, it would appear that John gave his all for Jesus, literally, but Jesus simply turned his back on him.
God didn’t release John from his captors, didn’t free him from the cell, didn’t let him stand triumphant in the court of Herod and have the final “Told ya so!” that comes with a selfish view of righteousness.
From our point of perspective, John suffered mightily for giving his entire life to God, then was cast aside and killed for it – as if he had no value whatsoever.
This is the common backwardness of human pain.
We expect God to free us from bad situations, poor working conditions, debt, health problems, relational wreckage, persecution – all because we feel we live a “good enough” life and a loving God somehow owes us happiness.
And, that’s all wrong.
When you look at it from an eternal perspective:
- John gave his all – just as God designed him to do.
- His martyrdom is spoken of all over the world today, thousands of years later
- John’s life was a great example of how we should all live – proclaiming the coming of Christ
- John put his own needs last in order to serve others at every turn
- John was not only released from his earthly prison into a heavenly eternity, he was first.
First to enter the house Jesus had prepared for us. First to escape the unfair, unhealthy, pain wracked existence we call life. First to embrace the true eternal life those who call on the Lord will one day enjoy.
Are you physically, mentally or emotionally suffering in some way today?
Crushed with disappointment over an unmet expectation?
Collapsing under the weight of your present reality?
While it’s very hard to have eternal eyes during an earthly trauma, pulling your focus back from the circumstances of this life and re-framing your perspective on what the Lord designed you to do will take your heart, mind and spirit away from earthly pain and fill you with His love.
For more on this perspective, check out this message from Pastor Bil Cornelius at Church Unlimited: