2 When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples 3 and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see:
5 the 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. 6 And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”
As 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? 8 What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. 9 What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.
10 This is the one about whom it is written, ‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ 11 Truly 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. [NRSA]
Mary and Elizabeth knew of God’s plans for their children. They certainly pondered the possibilities in their hearts and minds. How often was the conversation of wonder and anticipation?
Extended family gatherings, where the table is spread, and the family unites for a meal of hummus, falafel, lamb, tabouleh, baba ghanoush, and baklava,
- Joseph and Zachariah talking about projects at work and the temp;
- Mary and Elizabeth share stories of Joseph and Zack.
- John the Baptist trying to dunk the other kids in the pool.
- Jesus, a picky eater, would only be wanting to eat bread.
I have often wondered how familiar the family was with the events in Bethlehem and the months leading up to Jesus’s birth when it came to Jesus’s family life.
- Elizabeth would have never imagined John in prison and beheaded; and
- Mary never would have imagined a cross.
- Surely their children would be devoted to the work of God, but how much did they know?
In their adult life, Elizabeth and Zachariah must have worried about John leaving home and work and devoting himself to a ministry of repentance in the wilderness.
It would have been one thing to be a teacher in the synagogue that was respected and honored for teaching about the coming Messiah, but to make the radical move into the wilderness and have crowds come to him for cleansing and repentance was not likely what filled her hope chest of dreams. In as much as she would be worried about his safety, comfort, and reputation. As he was not the prophet on retainer for the Sanhedrin. He was living a life faithful to God’s call.
This passage reflects that John had questions, doubts, and fears about Jesus being the fulfillment of his calling.
- Had John signed up for the attention he found?
- The imprisonment for his faith?
- The threat of death of the whims and fears of the king’s wife?
The hope for was Messiah in the fashion of David or Solomon, who would establish the political and military kingdom that was the envy of the nations and the triumph of the people of God.
Yes, Jesus shows up at one of John’s baptism sessions by the Jordon, and the two meet.
Jesus was making a way with a band of followers, but there was no announcement of his political career or campaign, and now in prison, John would not be baptizing anyone else, was this Jesus the one to place our hopes and trust in.
And here is found the heart of this passage. John the Baptizer, called and devoted to the cause of God, has given his life to preparing the way for the Messiah, and he was having questions, doubts, and fears about Jesus.
What does it mean when we have doubts about Jesus.
We don’t doubt Jesus’ existence; we doubt God will show up as promised. When the promise is not yet met or fulfilled differently?
The Plan, Our perspective:
The simple faith journey is that we experience the grace of God in Christ, through the church, through scripture, or through the Holy Spirit, and we come to the knowledge and affirmation of Jesus as our Savior, and life goes on smoothly with no more fears, problems, worries, struggles, temptations, nor troubles. And we go to heaven after a long life of faithful joy. Wait…
Who promised that was the way to salvation? The truth is that we continue to live in a world of free will. Every day is its own journey of finding the power of God to reveal God’s kingdom in this world until we breathe our last or Christ returns.
The Plan is Trustworthy. Reclaim the Plan
The ministry of Repentance was a call for God’s People to turn their lives toward God. This is not a once-in-a-lifetime event. The Baptism of Repentance recognized our need to spiritually bathe each day.
- More than once per day 11%
- Once per day 51%
- Every other day 20%
- Every three days 8%
- Every four days 4%
- Every five days 2%
- Every six days 1%
- Once a week 2%
- Less than once a week 1%
In summary, more than once a day is too much, and waiting more than every other day is too little. The everyday task of cleansing. If we know part of our physical health is washing away what is dirty and dead skin is good, what of daily attending to our spiritual health?
When we live with a “One and Done” perspective about our spiritual wholeness, we will certainly see the effects of temptation, evil,
John the Baptist is one committed and yet with doubts and questions.
WHAT DO WE DO WITH OUR OWN?
First, we see John is questioning and not giving up
- He is still in prison and working on the communication trail of staying informed and connected.
- He is still asking for confirmation when his faith is shaken or challenged. Don’t give up.
- He is ready to continue looking if the plans have changed. Don’t give up.
The Good News is given by Jesus as summary of transformations, person by person, from brokenness to wholeness.
John’s witness is of one who, even though questions and weariness, is asking, seeking, and knocking at the door of Christ for faith.
This season of expectation is our wake-up call to be attentive daily to our spiritual health and the spiritual connection we have with others. John asks for faith and assurance and Jesus points disciples to the witness of healing, wholeness and transformation of God’s work in a broken world.
- When we continually hear about war, evil, injustice, and political unrest, it is normal for us to ask God:
- How Long?
- Where are you?
- Is our faith and trust well planted?
And John the Baptist, even from prison, through disciples, and through two thousand years, calls us to ask, seek, and knock on the door of Christ, to be reminded and renewed of the work of Christ in the world.
This season of anticipation is our call to repentance, refocus the lens, and renew the journey to see Christ working around us.
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