2When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples 3and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” 4Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. 6And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”
7As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? 8What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. 9What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10This is the one about whom it is written,
‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way before you.’
11Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”
GAP Ministries is a wonderful ministry that is just right down the road from us that helps people in our community to obtain their birth certificates, I.D.s and also have a food bank –
The Director there told me a story about a young man who wanted to be baptized.
“That’s wonderful,” I said. She went on to tell me that there are some problems associated with some of those who expressed the desire to be baptized.
Anxious to hear what the issue was, she began to tell me that this young man wanting to be baptized but, had expectations that his life would get better – that he would not have to live out on the street anymore…
Things would be different, and life would be good…he said. She said she had to explain to him that it didn’t necessarily work out like that –
This young man had the expectation that his life would be good – better than it is now –
Maybe he could find a job that would support him.
The street would no longer be his bed.
He wouldn’t have to be cold at night.
He would sit at the table and eat a warm meal.
All I could think about as she was telling me about this young man…was that his expectations of what life is about…I take for granted!
We all have expectations. We expect the sun to come up in the morning. We expect that we will have our jobs and have the opportunity to retire one day.
We expect that we will see our children grow up and grow old.
And, when our expectations are not met, we become disappointed.
And, for John the Baptist, it was no different for him.
He knew his mission in life. He knew that he was called to pave the WAY for the Messiah…
“Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is Near!”
Ready or Not…Here He is…right in front of you!
And, so for us…right from the get-go…You and I would never EXPECT a man like John the Baptist to be the one to come before Christ –
A man who lived in the wilderness with clothing made of camel’s hair and who ate locusts and honey every day!
But yet, there he was, and people flocked all around him from all of Judea, Jerusalem and all up and down the shoreline of the Jordan River –
And, now because of his proclamation of the Messiah, John is sitting in jail. – Certainly, not at all what he expected he would be doing as the one to ‘prepare the Way for the Messiah!”
He had heard that Jesus is out there teaching and proclaiming his message in the cities…
And, here he sits – in a prison cell.
Well, we all know that when you are all alone – day after day, your mind goes crazy with all kinds of thoughts…
And, in his case, he’s thinking: Maybe I got this all wrong. Maybe Jesus isn’t the one – maybe he isn’t the Messiah…
And, so he calls for his disciples to go and talk to Jesus and ask the question:
“Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?”
Jesus tells them to report back to John: Tell John what you HEAR and SEE –
The blind received their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them.
In other words, people have been transformed, made whole again, brought back to life, –
And, the poor – They have Good News – they too can EXPECT a Life beyond their imaginations
And, by the way, also tell John: And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.
You know, Jesus could have said, “Blessed are you John, who never doubt if I am the Messiah…”. But instead, Jesus says:
God bless you John, if you do not throw the whole thing over because I am a different kind of Messiah than you were expecting.
Blessed is ANYONE who takes no offense to me – I believe to be the crux of this text…
Come on…let’s face it…If we are to think of a king, the one who was to change the world…the one who could take everything that is wrong and make it right…the one who could give us life – not death – the KINGDOM of HEAVEN –
A GOD that could have anything, do anything, and be anything –
Would be a man born in Bethlehem, asleep in a barn and laying in a trough – A trough that is used to feed livestock – like cows, goats, and sheep.
Could we not too – wonder, doubt, and question: IS Jesus THE ONE or should we be WAITING for another?
BLESSED IS ANYONE WHO TAKES NO OFFENSE TO ME –
Blessed are you for not throwing the whole thing over because I am a different kind of Messiah than you were expecting…
And so, in John’s doubt of wondering if Jesus was the One, Jesus gives him an excellent recommendation –
He is a prophet – more than a prophet! And, he is a prophet because he has been prophesized!
And now, we have to wonder, is Jesus talking about John or Himself?
Because if John is the Messenger, then it begs the question: Who are YOU, JESUS?
If John is more than a prophet, than what does that make you, JESUS?
John, I am the ONE who is to COME! I AM the MESSIAH!
Look around! What do you hear and see?
See the transformed lives of those living in wholeness, joy, love, – the crippled can walk, the deaf can hear, and the blind can see!
Hear this Good NEWS! Believe. And, most of all – EXPECT IT!
Blessed is anyone who takes no offense to me –
And, you are right – John – I am not at all what you expect –
I am more than you expect – I am beyond your imagination –
I mean, can you imagine John when he received the news of what Jesus was doing in the world?
I vision his jaw dropping…
Raising people from the dead? Healing the sick? The blind can now see? The lame can now walk? The deaf can now hear?
It’s unbelievable. It’s unfathomable. It’s feels too good to be true!
That young man who wanted to be baptized hoped for a better life. He believed or at least wanted to believe, that if he was baptized, his life would be better –
His expectations were high – but Jesus is higher –
Because through his baptism, Jesus provides the WAY for transformation and a means of being made whole –
He does raise from the dead and brought to new life!
Our expectations are high – but Jesus is still higher –
We await this advent season, expecting the Messiah to come again…
Like John, we may doubt and wonder – Is Jesus the ONE?
What do you HEAR and SEE?!
Through our HEARING of the Word of God and SEEING our lives transformed into the likeness of Christ through our own baptism– We are led to our faith.
A faith that transforms us into believers of Christ that loves us so much that not only comes into the world, fully human, but yet fully God – and is willing to die to HIMSELF for the sake of US
Our salvation. Our eternal Life. A life that brings joy and peace – no matter what our circumstances may be –
We await this advent season, expecting the Messiah to come again…
I have a feeling it will not be at all what we expect…but beyond our imaginations…