Recently, I had the opportunity to re-connect with a young man from years gone by who is preparing to get married soon. He has realized, however, that there are a few “obstacles” in his path that must be addressed between now and his wedding day. As many of us are so easily tempted to do, he is discovering that the same flesh that created these obstacles cannot be the force by which those obstacles will be removed. It MUST be a Holy Spirit-led, flesh-less battle fought in the trenches of humility, repentance, and submission. To most, this concept simply does not make sense.
In the book of Matthew, we read the strange exchange between Jesus and an imprisoned John the Baptist. This very man had spent the majority of his life embracing his call to prepare the way of the Lord, and now that He has arrived and begun His public ministry, he finds himself on lock down in a prison cell. Some reward, huh?! This certainly does not make sense.
Jewish scholars help us understand that this exchange between Jesus and John was a public confirmation that John’s earthly ministry was completed, and that his last days would indeed be spent in prison. It’s hard to fully understand, but Jesus was essentially saying, “Job well done, John! You have completed your assignment.” He had spent his days preparing the way for the Lord with his life, and now he would complete one last task – to prepare the way for Jesus’ death by his own death. Make sense? Hardly.
Chapter 11 of Matthew’s gospel then reveals to us that Jesus immediately began to address the unbelief that was so rampant in the very cities in which He had taught and performed so many miracles. It certainly does not make sense to me how one can be in the very presence of Jesus, witness mighty miracles, and then not believe. It is this concept that Jesus addressed when He said in prayer to the Father, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of Heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and have revealed them unto babes. (Matt. 11:25)
The wisdom the Father holds flows to us through His Son, whose very spirit we possess if we have received our position as adopted sons and daughters (see Galatians 4:4-7). This flow is the very thing that our flesh so easily corrupts and interrupts. It is why Jesus concluded this public conversation in Matthew by saying, Come unto Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Matt. 11:28). According to human wisdom, it does not make sense to purposely enter the trenches of humility, repentance, and submission, but true rest and freedom only come as we enter this place.
Like my friend is experiencing right now, the obstacles our human flesh creates cannot be removed by simply trying harder. Freedom comes as a result of doing what doesn’t make sense. I am praying today that my friend (and you) will choose to enter the “senseless trenches” and experience the joy of uninterrupted flow, battles won, and obstacles removed! True rest and victory await!