Advent 3 :: Are you the one?

Matthew 11.2-11

Scotland 2013 081

Ft. William Cemetery Cross

Who is Jesus? The messiah? The one we've been waiting for?

This is the question John the Baptist asks after Herod has put him in prison. But shouldn’t he know if Jesus was the Messiah? After all, it was just last week [in Sunday Lectionary terms] that he was out in the wilderness proclaiming that “one who is more powerful than I is coming after me.” John’s baptism was one of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. But the baptism of “the coming One” would be with Holy Spirit and fire. Certainly, if Jesus were the Messiah, he would be exactly as John predicted, wouldn’t he? He’d be preaching about sin and would go around separating the wheat from the chaff and throwing the bad people into the fire. Right? That’s what John said he’d be doing, and, if John is the Prophet everyone says he is, that’s just how the Messiah would act.

So, wait a minute. That’s not how Jesus acted. He had no winnowing fork in his hand. And he didn’t go around throwing people into any fires. He did nothing like what John predicted. Instead, what did he do? Well, let’s hear it straight from the Messiah’s mouth: “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.” Then he adds, “blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”

Do you suppose John took offense? There he was, languishing in Herod’s prison for upsetting the status quo and getting Herod’s people all riled up. He’s expecting a Judgement-pronouncing Messiah-King who will separate the bad from the good and announce a tremendous day-of-reckoning with all the pyrotechnics that the Holy Spirit can muster. But what did he get? The blind see, the lame walk, lepers are clean, the deaf can hear, the dead are now alive, and the poor have received hope. Hardly fire and brimstone stuff!

What do you expect of the Messiah? What would you have Jesus be? Are you disappointed that he didn’t come to get rid of all the bad guys, whoever they are? That he didn’t whip out some magic wand and suddenly make everything all right? Is Jesus the One you’ve been waiting for? Or should you seek another?

Link to RCL Lectionary for Advent 3, Year A

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