One of the most brilliant remezim or kesher connections takes place in Matthew 11 in a conversation between Jesus and John the Baptizer. If you remember from the first ever Scripture Kung Fu posting, a ‘remez’ or ‘kesher connection’ is quoting a passage and hinting at the true meaning. We saw that in the Luke story of Zaccchaeus, Jesus quotes Ezekiel 34 when saying ‘the son of man came to seek and save the lost,’ and this infuriated the religious leaders as Ezekiel 34 implies that the religious leaders were not doing their job and God would destroy them and replace them with the ‘son of man.’
In Matthew 11, John asks Jesus a very loaded question. John is in prison at Machaereus (modern day Jordan) and he sends his disciples to ask, “Are you the coming one, or should we expect someone else?” The phrase “coming one” is a direct reference to a messianic prophesy in Zechariah 9:9. Immediately following the mentioning of the coming one in Zechariah 9:9, Zechariah 9:11 states that the prisoners will be set free. So John was essentially asking, “Are you the messiah, and will I get out of prison?”
Jesus replies with an answer that is so brilliant and strings together so many Old Testament passages from memory, it is just amazing. He replies with, “The blind receive sight (Isa. 42:7, Isa. 35:5-6, Isa. 29:18-19), the lame walk (Isa. 35:5-6), those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear (Isa. 29:18-19), the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor (Isa. 61). Blessed is anyone who does not fall away on account of me (Ps. 118:22-26, Isa. 45:17, Isa. 28:16).
In the majority of the passages Jesus quotes, he leaves out the phrase immediately after that states that “the prisoners will be set free.” So in quoting many messianic prophecies and leaving out the part about the prisoners being set free he is essentially answering John and saying, “Yes, I am the Messiah, but you will not get out of prison, blessed are you if you don’t fall away on account of me.”
The lesson I take from this is as follows, sometimes you try your best and follow God with all of your heart, and things don’t turn out the way you want, and the challenge is to be faithful in these hard times. If you search the scriptures, there are many times when someone follows God and everything just falls apart. Moses leads the people in the wilderness for 40 years, and we discover in Deuteronomy that he is not allowed to enter the promised land. David follows God and dreams of building the temple, and he is not allowed to because he has killed too many people, so his son gets to achieve his dream of building a temple, not David. John the Baptist follows God, and is ultimately beheaded by Herod after being imprisoned at Machaeurus. Jesus is in Gethsemane and says, “Daddy (Abba), everything is possible for you, if it’s possible take this cup (the 5th cup of passover, the cup of God’s wrath and anger) from me, yet but not what I will, but what you will….”
You learn in life that you can’t control people, places, and things. Maybe someone you loved deeply has betrayed you and it is very painful. The same thing happened to Jesus. His closest followers all abandon him, Peter denies him 3 times, and Judas sells him to his enemies.
Sometimes you might feel like you’re helpless, and it is probably because you are. You find that when you don’t surrender, and you try to control someone or something and make them do what you feel they’re supposed to do, it drives them away all the more. If you’re like me, you need to learn how to surrender, and submit to God’s will, not yours…
Learning to surrender has been the toughest, most painful lesson I’ve ever had to learn, and I learned it the hard way (as I usually do) by failing at it over and over again, but I’m learning that it is one of the most important things in life. Sometimes we need to surrender, and let God do his job. In the words of the famous serenity prayer, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”