“When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples 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: 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. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.” (Matthew 11:2 – 6)
I have read this passage many times, each time I come away with a different thought and perspective. In thinking also about the passage from Isaiah where it talks about things will come to pass, John the Baptist must have been familiar with such passages. In answering John’s question the way he did, Jesus must have also assumed that John was familiar with such passages. In a way, Jesus is saying “yes, I am the one all of creation has been waiting for.”
remember also that Jesus and John were kin to each other, and as
children growing up they may have played together. Mayhap that
childhood relationship might have formed a bond between the two men.
Or maybe John wanted to be very sure that his childhood friend was
also the Son of the Lord God that John had dedicated his life to. I
like to think that John, being so answered, was ready to accept what
his chosen way of life would result in.
“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? What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. What then 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, ‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ “ (Verses 7 – 10)
like to think too that Jesus believed strongly in John – not just
as the messenger who “prepared his way” but as the kin who
believed in him long before either one of them had taken up their
adult roles. Jesus’ further comments, in my mind, reveals an
admiration and compassion of John that speaks of “family ties.”
And yet, and yet . . . . this familial relationship might have
made John unsure, at first, of whether Jesus truly was more than
“human.” If John had known Jesus as family, could he make that
leap to believing in Jesus as the Messiah? He preached about the one
who was coming that was greater than he (John). But could and did
John reconcile the person he knew as Jesus and the Messiah who he was
preparing the way for and prophesying about? Maybe it was this
uncertainty that lead Jesus to say what he did.
“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.” (Verse 11)
When we, beloved reader, believe in and take on the role that the Lord God has given us, we are inheritors of great joy. We also can be inheritors of great burden and responsibility. John talked himself into the prison cell of Herod, and death. Jesus, in a way, did the same thing. As did many of the disciples. You may ask, this is joy? Yes, actually it is.
It is often during high seasons of the church year that people may be called into greater roles in the life of the church and in their faith life. Such seasons turn our thinking to faith and spirituality. The traditions of the church year and our faith circle can potentially do the same. I would not think to “warn” you of this beloved reader. Instead I would like to prepare you, and even encourage you!
Also, when tough times come our way, and we question our faith, that is the time we can step forward and reassert our beliefs. And delve further into relationship with the Divine. May you, beloved reader, be lead even deeper in your faith life. May you answer the call. And may the greatness in you be revealed! Selah!