And blessed is he, whoever shall not be offended in me.
John, in prison, hears of the great progress of the kingdom he has heralded, and cannot understand why he is left unaided, seemingly unpitied, to perish. Not for want of power, surely; the hand that healed the sick could open the prison. If for want of will, can this be the real King? Why does the axe not smite the overshadowing tree of wickedness; why does the fan not winnow the evil from the good? So he sends his message of remonstrance and indignation. To this Christ gives a twofold answer. He bids John's disciples tell their master of His works and of His word, of His miracles and of His teaching.
I. MIRACLES, i.e., not merely things to wonder at, but signs that the supernatural kingdom of righteousness wrought by a power, a will, a voice outside of and acting on nature; telling us that this order of nature may yet be completely changed for a higher and better, in which it shall be as unnatural for man to suffer, sorrow, and die, as it is now natural. But the exercise of this power was limited. Only some of the sick were healed and dead raised. To assure us that eventually all shall be, we need, besides the evidence of Christ's works, the declaration of His —
II. WORD — "to the poor the gospel is preached." Why is this significant? Because poverty is only another word for human imperfection and weakness. The life of humanity on earth is a life of struggle with nature. In proportion as man subdues the earth, progress, civilization, and wealth increase. But all are not equally fitted for this struggle; hence, while the strong frame, keen intellect, resolute will, conquer circumstances, the weak suffer and hunger. But in the kingdom of heaven there is a gospel for the poor. God has another world, in which to redress the inequalities of this, where the poor shall hunger and thirst no more, and where God shall wipe away the tears from all eyes. This gospel for the poor is no myth or mirage begotten of the fevered thirst of man's soul. Deeprooted in historic fact lie the reasons of this promise. The city of God that is to come down from heaven has had its foundation-stone laid already upon earth. The gospel for the poor is the gospel of the resurrection. He who preaches it, stands beside an open grave. Moreover, the glory to come is linked with present suffering as its result and fruit. The law of the heavenly kingdom requires that the sin which hinders our happiness should be burnt out by sorrow, and that we should bear the chastening cross in this life. While the rich man is told that if he would walk heavenward he must be ready to part with riches and become poor at Christ's bidding, the poor man is comforted with the knowledge that weariness, sorrow, toil, suffering, and disappointment, if taken up as a cross, if lifted as a burden the Saviour has appointed, will bear rich fruit in heaven. Thus, out of suffering comes joy; out of sorrow, eternal peace; and so the trials of the poor man in this world are made his spiritual wealth in the world to come.
(Bishop W. C. Magee.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.
WEB: Blessed is he who finds no occasion for stumbling in me."