Death #3 November 29 A Job Well Done
Often we wonder what was going on in someone’s head. I recently watched my son head-butt a wall, and I wondered, “What are you thinking?” I have watched teenagers do the most idiotic things, and I stare at them and ask, “What was going through your brain when you thought that was a good idea?” I also try to do this when reading the Bible. What was going through Enoch’s mind when God brought him to Heaven? What was going through David’s head when Goliath went down? What was going through Peter’s mind when he walked on water? Finally, what sort of thoughts were going through John the Baptist’s mind right before he was beheaded.
Take some time to read the story of John the Baptist’s beheading in Matthew 14. For the gruesomeness of this passage I do not want to go into great detail about this passage, and since anyone from 8- 80 could be reading this devotional, I will have to put a “parental advisory” on verses 8-12 as I continue. I always wondered what was going on in John’s mind. He is sitting in prison; he may or may not have been able to hear that his minutes are numbered. I wonder if John felt regret. He stayed committed to the calling God put on his life. John lived a rather odd life of eating insects and wearing uncomfortable clothes, all for God. He devoted his life to preparing the way of the Lord, and he was now in a place where he would not get to see the end result. Now, John was stuck in a room, where eventually a man would come in, murder him, and display his head.
We all have a tendency to look at how a situation ends and define the end as the result of the whole thing. Think of every team that loses in the championship game. The moment the clock hits 00:00 and a team loses, why does everyone throw their entire season out and considered them failures? Atlanta just lost the Super Bowl with a 95% probability of winning with five minutes left in the game. Now that was a great comeback, but Tom Brady being the G.O.A.T. (Greatest Of All Time), does not take anything away from Matt Ryan or Julio Jones. Just because something does not end in what we deem as a “win,” does not make it a loss.
Switching gears from football to John the Baptist. John lost his life in prison after faithfully serving God. John boldly preached repentance to a society that did not want to hear him. John stood up to self-righteous religious people that would murder anyone who stood in their way. John was willing to be an odd-ball, just because it was what God commanded him to do. Go back to Matthew 11. While John was in prison, he had doubts. John sent a servant to ask Jesus if he was truly Jesus. Jesus’ response was, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them”( Matthew 11:4-5). At that moment I think we can see what was going on in John’s mind. Yes, John’s life was about to end. However, the job that John was tasked with was just starting to take off. The job that John started was about to be finished by Jesus. The Kingdom of God was starting to roll, and God used John to start the momentum. The reality is all of our lives are but a vapor, and we never know when that last moment will be. But in John’s case, I feel he was able to move from this life to the next easily knowing that he did a job well done. He finished his race. He fought his fight. He left this world with no regrets. We can learn a lot about our walk with Christ in even the most brutal of stories. So let us take a page out of John the Baptist’s book, and go work for Christ. Let us all go live a life that is worthy of hearing, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21).
Pastor Ryan Story