John the Baptist gave his life to Christ—literally—yet he died one of the Bible’s most gruesome deaths.

“And blessed is the one who is not offended by me,” (Matthew 11:6, ESV).

Some translations say, “’God blesses those who do not turn away because of me,'” (NLT).

When John the Baptist heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else,” (Matthew 11:2-3)? Imagine how John the Baptist must have felt when he first got word that Jesus was the Messiah. Surely, all of his suffering was going to be over. Surely, he would be freed from prison and the brutality he suffered at the hands of his capturers. I believe that the reason John sent his disciples to meet Jesus might have been two-fold. First, maybe a part of him wondered whether Jesus knew that he had been arrested. Secondly, I believe that he wanted to be unequivocally sure that he had sacrificed his life for something real—something that mattered.

Isn’t that how most of us who have chosen to walk with Jesus feel, or have felt at some point in time. We feel as if we have sacrifice so much. Many of us feel as if we have trusted God with everything, yet we question whether he is aware of the “prisons” in which we sit. We question whether or not we are believing in something or someone who truly exists. Many of us think that if we believe and trust in God, He will rescue us from our situations. However, it doesn’t always work that way. John the Baptist dedicated his life to Christ, yet he was imprisoned and beheaded. How many examples can you think of in your life where the people around you, including yourself, have made sacrifice in the name of God, yet He has seemingly failed them?

John the Baptist must have been at his wits end. He knew that death was eminent. He wanted to know that it was all worth it—that his sacrifices were not in vain. I believe that a greater part of him wanted Jesus to return with the disciples and rescue him from death. However, Jesus did not return, he only sent word, “’Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen— the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor. And tell him, ‘God blesses those who do not turn away because of me,’” (Matthew 11:4-6, NLT).

Here is what I believe that Jesus was saying to John and to us, “Deep down you know that I exist. You have seen my miracles. They are all around you. You are surrounded by inexplicable events that can only be accomplished by a higher power—Me. People all over the world are experiencing my blessings, not just those whom the world considers to be in good standing (e.g. rich and powerful). Don’t be discouraged when it seems like I am not at work in your situation. Look around you. My work is all around you. How could you be surrounded by my greatness and yet be excluded? Just give me a chance! Don’t just judge me based on a snapshot. Look at the whole picture. If you just trust me, I will reward your obedience. I know it hurts, but I have promised to wipe away every tear (Revelation 21:4). Don’t turn away because you think that I don’t care. I will honor you.”

The truth is John the Baptist’s life and subsequent death was the fulfillment of prophesy. His sacrifice has paved the way for countless others. Our God is a big picture God, and unfortunately (or fortunately), sometimes our sacrifices are for the benefit of others. As I close, the most recent person that came to mind was Martin Luther King Jr. and the many people who lost their lives in the American Civil Rights Era. Many of them did not live to see the fruits of their sacrifices. However, as a result of their selflessness, I am able to freely write this blog. As a result of John the Baptist’s sacrifice I am able to know the glory of God. I believe with all my heart that when I get to heaven, I will see John the Baptist sitting in his seat of glory. I believe that many of us will be rewarded with the blessings that Earth withheld.

“And blessed is the one who is not offended by me,” (Matthew 11:6, ESV).