Jesus’ Measure of Success
In Matthew 11, Jesus had just finished a pep talk and sent his twelve disciples out on their first mission when he received a visit from the disciples of John the Baptist. John the Baptist had been sidelined for speaking out against King Herod for stealing his brother Phillip’s wife. Now behind prison bars, John the Baptist began to wonder about his preaching and whether he had fulfilled his mission of predicting who would be Messiah. He had preached about the Messiah’s coming, and then he met Jesus and baptized him. He was convinced that Jesus was in fact the Messiah, but when you are in prison and you aren’t in the game anymore, your mind can play tricks on you. Now, John the Baptist experienced doubt.
Some days I have doubts about my mission as well. Don’t you? When all is going well, it seems clear that we are doing what God calls us to do. But when difficult things start piling up, you can start to wonder. Did I miss something? Maybe this wasn’t what God called me to do?
In the case of John the Baptist, Jesus sent back all the evidence John needed to hear. He basically sent word to John that the blind are receiving sight, the lame are walking, lepers are clean, the deaf can hear, and dead folks are living life again. Case closed. John had the assurance he needed that he had done his job well. Jesus would take it from here.
When I have my doubts about my mission, I can’t let my current situation be my source of evaluation. Difficulty does not equal failure. I have to evaluate by what Jesus has done through my mission. If lost people are being found, if people who were dead in their sins are now experiencing life in Christ, if injustices are being corrected, if the less fortunate are being served, if the good news is being shared—then I’m on mission. Being challenged by difficult circumstances, being criticized by others, and having resource challenges are not my measure of success because they aren’t the measure Jesus uses. He evaluates faithfulness and rewards it.
Long before Jesus walked on the earth, Solomon said it right and Jesus later confirmed it. “If you falter in a time of trouble, how small is your strength!” (Proverbs 24:10)
Hard days come and go. Some days are filled with doubt. But the wise prevail by the power and wisdom of God. I will take a spoonful of God’s wisdom today and know that I will find hope for the journey. Grab a spoonful for yourself as well. God’s wisdom is like honey, and you and I both need the strength it brings!
God didn’t send his Son to entertain us. He sent his Son to transform us. He came to recreate us in his image. He came to give us life. He came to set us free from all that binds us. Jesus is so upset in Matthew 11 because those that had the most knowledge and the best context and were supposedly looking for the Messiah basically enjoyed watching Jesus but didn’t do anything to respond to his offer to receive abundant life. They watched the miracles and did nothing.
At the end of chapter 11 Jesus makes an unbelievable offer even after the condemnation of the religious crowd. He said “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
Come to me…
Weary and burdened by the law
Weary and burdened by your addictions
Weary and burdened by trying to do it all yourself
Weary and burdened by your socio-economic classification
Weary and burdened because of your spiritual poverty
Weary and burdened by family dysfunction
Weary and burdened by politics
Weary and burdened
Take my yoke; try it on. It transfers the weight off of you; you will walk easier.
Learn from me. I’m a gentle teacher. You will find my humility comfortable.
You will discover rest.
Lord, forgive us when we are hard headed and determined to do it ourselves.
Lord, forgive us when we watch you work but won’t let you work in us, on us, and for us.
I need the yoke of Jesus in a men’s large—maybe an XL. I’m not that big, but sometimes I tend to carry an extra load of burden. I need his rest. He has a yoke in your size as well. Order one; they are free, and shipping has already been paid.
Written by President Dean Collins ’79