John the Baptist
18-19John's followers told John everything that was being said about Jesus. So he sent two of them to ask the Lord, “Are you the one we should be looking for? Or must we wait for someone else?”
20When these messengers came to Jesus, they said, “John the Baptist sent us to ask, ‘Are you the one we should be looking for? Or are we supposed to wait for someone else?’ ”
21At that time Jesus was healing many people who were sick or in pain or were troubled by evil spirits, and he was giving sight to a lot of blind people. 22 Jesus said to the messengers sent by John, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard. Blind people are now able to see, and the lame can walk. People who have leprosy are being healed, and the deaf can now hear. The dead are raised to life, and the poor are hearing the good news. 23God will bless everyone who doesn't reject me because of what I do.”
24After John's messengers had gone, Jesus began speaking to the crowds about John:
What kind of person did you go out to the desert to see? Was he like tall grass blown about by the wind? 25What kind of man did you really go out to see? Was he someone dressed in fine clothes? People who wear expensive clothes and live in luxury are in the king's palace. 26What then did you go out to see? Was he a prophet? He certainly was! I tell you that he was more than a prophet. 27 In the Scriptures, God calls John his messenger and says, “I am sending my messenger ahead of you to get things ready for you.” 28No one ever born on this earth is greater than John. But whoever is least important in God's kingdom is greater than John.
29 Everyone had been listening to John. Even the tax collectors had obeyed God and had done what was right by letting John baptize them. 30But the Pharisees and the experts in the Law of Moses refused to obey God and be baptized by John.
31Jesus went on to say:
What are you people like? What kind of people are you? 32You are like children sitting in the market and shouting to each other,
“We played the flute,
but you would not dance!
We sang a funeral song,
but you would not cry!”
33John the Baptist did not go around eating and drinking, and you said, “John has a demon in him!” 34But because the Son of Man goes around eating and drinking, you say, “Jesus eats and drinks too much! He is even a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” 35Yet Wisdom is shown to be right by what its followers do.
In our pluralistic culture there are many who do not know the true identity of Jesus. This problem of recognition is not greatly different from how it was at the time of Jesus. Recognizing and acknowledging Jesus is at the heart of our faith. Luke is intent on telling the story of Jesus so we will know who he is – the Messiah, the Promised One of Israel. There is much that can prevent even those of us within the faith from seeing as we ought.
John the Baptist had a special role in the launch of the ministry of Jesus. It was John who prepared the way, baptized Jesus and declared him the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). But now John is in prison for boldly speaking against the immoral actions of the cultural leaders. Reports have come to John about the activity of Jesus in healing the sick and raising the dead. John’s expectation was not just for miraculous works of Jesus but for a defeat of the powers. And so comes the question from John through his disciples: “Are you the One who is to come, or shall we look for another?”
John was led to ask this question of Jesus because his expectations were not being fulfilled. The signs that Jesus enacted were clear indicators that he was the Messiah – but they are just the beginning. John, it seems, wanted things to happen on a different schedule. Such moments of doubt, impatience or loss of confidence which any of us may have can best be corrected by a renewed trust in the one John affirmed as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
Lord Jesus, I thank you for the works you have performed, and the words you have spoken. Forgive my efforts to manage you according to my own needs and expectations. Give me humility of spirit that I may know you aright and follow you faithfully.