One of the most puzzling stories in the N.T. is that of John the Baptist. He was arrested by Herod for telling the truth. Although John was a very good Jew, a Nazarite and ascetic who practiced the letter of the law, the Jewish leaders made no attempt to get John out of the clutches of Herod although they had great influence with the evil potentate. Even more disturbing is the fact that Jesus was just a few miles away doing miracles. He was opening the eyes of the blind and unstopping the ears of the deaf. Causing the lame to leap up like a deer, and those who could not speak were shouting and singing! He who came to set the captive free did not respond to John’s plea, not with a miracle. He sent word through John’s disciples that everything was on schedule: He was doing what the Messiah was prophesied to do. He told John’s disciples to go back and tell John what they saw which was the scriptures fulfilled. I have always wished that Jesus would have given John a miracle: that He would have set the captive free but Jesus didn’t take a break from His work, He just continued to do what He was doing. John died at the hand of the cruel and cowardly Herod a few days later. I don’t like the story. I don’t like Herod and I don’t like the way John died. Why didn’t John get a miracle? Why didn’t the Jews do something? Why didn’t Jesus do something? It does not make sense unless we look beyond this life. If we don’t look at this story in light of eternity, it will become as depressing to us as the dungeon was to John. John didn’t get the miracle that we were looking for but he may have gotten something far better: an earlier flight home. As cruel as this may sound, beheading is a merciful way to depart compared to crucifixion. There is a story that helps me have some peace about John. Around the year 1910, an old missionary was returning from Africa where he had spent his life in service to our LORD. He had been gone for some 30 years or more and had few contacts here in the states. As the ship docked in New York, the Missionary and his wife found a place to observe. They could not afford first class accommodations so they had spent the voyage in the lower quarters of the ship which is reserved for 3rd class passengers. Certain parts of the ship was reserved for 1st and 2nd class and 3rd class passengers were literally barred from going to the higher decks. The old Missionary and his wife found themselves a place along the rail so they could watch the 1st class disembark. They noticed a brass band on the dock and a huge crowd of people. There was a huge sign that read WELCOME HOME. The old Missionary’s heart was moved. He said to his wife “They have not forgotten us after all”. Then he noticed the words to the bottom of WELCOME HOME, there were two more words…Mr. President. Then he noticed Teddy Roosevelt going down the gang-plank. Roosevelt had been on a hunting expedition to Africa. His heart sank. He realized that the crowd was there to welcome the president who had been in Africa killing animals. There was no one there to welcome a missionary who had been preaching the gospel. As his shoulders slumped and his head bowed, he began to weep humbly. His sweet, gentle and understanding wife, gave him a firm embrace, looked him in the eye and said, “Honey, we are not home yet.” If there is no heaven or hell, missionaries and preachers are wasting their time. If we don’t look beyond the here and now, neither of the above stories make sense. Esau is the father of those who live for the present and Jacob is the father of those who live for eternity. Which one are you living for?