There are those who reject Jesus Christ because of religion. In Matthew 11:2-11, Jesus says look at what He says and does, and take no offense in Him.
When John the Baptist heard in prison of the works of the Christ,
he sent his disciples to Jesus with this question,
“Are you the one who is to come,
or should we look for another?”
Jesus said to them in reply,
“Go and tell John what you hear and see:
the blind regain their sight,
the lame walk,
lepers are cleansed,
the deaf hear,
the dead are raised,
and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.
And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”
As they were going off,
Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John,
“What did you go out to the desert to see?
A reed swayed by the wind?
Then what did you go out to see?
Someone dressed in fine clothing?
Those who wear fine clothing are in royal palaces.
Then why did you go out? To see a prophet?
Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.
This is the one about whom it is written:
‘Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you;
he will prepare your way before you.’
Amen, I say to you,
among those born of women
there has been none greater than John the Baptist;
yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”
Imagine the confusion in Jesus’ time. Many claimed to be the Messiah and many claimed to be prophets. So it was natural that when John the Baptist heard about Jesus – and he probably heard some bad things as well as good – he was unsure if Jesus was really the Messiah or one among many claiming the title. So John sent some of his disciples to ask Jesus who He is. Jesus not only proved who He is, but He then went on to prove to the crowd who John was. Both were the real thing.
What comes to my mind as I reflect on this passage from the Gospel of Matthew is how it relates to our world today. There is doubt about Jesus the Christ and whether He is the Messiah or whether, indeed, if He existed at all. Some people even scoff at Him. Some is natural skepticism. But some of it is caused by doubt of religion and religious institutions – churches and the preachers or hierarchies who lead them. Their apparent lack of following many of Jesus’ basic teachings, many of them hewing to a more conservative, less compassionate, and certainly less merciful dogma. Not dissimilar to many of the Pharisees, Sadducees, and scribes of Jesus’ time.
But read the Gospels and tell me what you find. The blind regain their sight. The lame walk. Lepers are cleansed. The deaf hear. The dead are raised. The poor are tended to. Jesus preaches compassion and mercy, tending to those in need, and loving God and your neighbor. And He reaches out to everyone for a reconciliation between God and humanity. There is none of the negativity and fear preached by many who have a grip on religion today. None of the false rhetoric and demagoguery practiced by those who are the false prophets of today.
And so Jesus’ words call out to those of us who shy away from the Christ because of them. “Take no offense at me,” He reaches out. Do not be a nonbeliever because of them. See what Jesus himself said and did. The Gospels will tell you that. And it takes reading whole chapters to get the full context, to get the full story, not just short sound bites.
If you find yourself doubting Jesus because of what someone says about Him, go to the original source and find out for yourself, as John the Baptist did. In your case, go to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. See that Jesus is the Messiah, the one who is to come, and far from a fear monger, far from a hater of sinners, He is a lover of people, one who walks and dines with sinners and heals the sick and disabled and tends to the least among us.
Shy away from the demagogues in the pews and the pulpits but, as Jesus commends, “blessed is the one who takes no offense in me.” Give Jesus a chance.