When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to Him, “Are you the One who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” Matthew 11:2–3
John was confused if not downright disappointed. Jesus, one of his own disciples, the one he believed was to lead the Jewish people back to faith and back to God wasn’t acting much like a Messiah. Jesus freely broke Sabbath laws, he seemed to dismiss important religious traditions, he didn’t appear to be headed in a direction that would bring an end to Roman occupation and priestly abuse. So, with some exasperation, John offered a backhanded criticism of Jesus. “Are you the Messiah or not?” “And if you are, you better start acting like it.”
How did Jesus respond to that criticism? By praising John! Instead of retaliating by pointing out John’s flaws and failings, Jesus regales John’s faithfulness and ministry. And in doing so, we see the lights of God’s kingdom begin to flicker on. Retaliation—verbal or physical—does not bring about the peace of God. Peace ushers in peace. When you are criticized, respond with praise and see what happens!
How do you respond to criticism?
Lord, I do not like being maligned. It is humiliating, and it makes me want to strike back. Help me learn not only to turn the other cheek but also to respond with graciousness and love. In Jesus’ name, I pray. AMEN.