John the Baptist
1After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he left and began teaching and preaching in the towns.
2John was in prison when he heard what Christ was doing. So John sent some of his followers 3to ask Jesus, “Are you the one we should be looking for? Or must we wait for someone else?”
4Jesus answered, “Go and tell John what you have heard and seen. 5 The blind are now able to see, and the lame can walk. People with leprosy are being healed, and the deaf can hear. The dead are raised to life, and the poor are hearing the good news. 6God will bless everyone who doesn't reject me because of what I do.”
The story of John the Baptist’s question to Jesus is one way the gospel writer seeks to establish the authority of Jesus. “Are you the One who is to come or shall we look for another?” discloses a measure of uncertainty from John and his disciples. The answer Jesus gives, referring to his work on behalf of the blind, the lame, the lepers, the deaf, the dead and the poor, all makes reference to themes found in the prophet Isaiah that characterize the promised messiah (Isaiah 61:1-3). These would be reassuring words to John, making clear that the messianic age has begun in the miraculous works of Jesus.
There is an ever-present danger that we shape the gospel according to our own wishes and desires. I am thinking of a therapeutic gospel that attends to my needs, a sentimental gospel that makes me feel good, a prosperity gospel that generates wealth and possessions for me, a political gospel that will overthrow the powers here and now. These options exemplify a bad start and yield an unsatisfactory finish when our expectations are not met. The problem is with our expectations, not with the gospel.
“And blessed is the one who is not offended by me,” says Jesus. It is common to find those who fall into doubt and despair and ultimately reject God or the truth of the gospel because their expectations were not met. It will be evident that this self-centred approach to the gospel is a failure to understand what Jesus’ invitation to enter the kingdom really means. We are to accept that invitation because of our love for the One who invites us, not for any reward we may receive in the short term.
God of mercy, forgive me for the times I try to squeeze you into my little world and have you comply with my petty agendas. I pray for the grace to accept that your ways are not my ways and ask that you will enable me to trust you more.