Day Three Hundred, Matt. 8, Luke 7-8, Matt. 11-12, Luke 11
Today's reading involves several different events as Jesus' ministry continues. He heals a centurion's slave, He raises a widow's dead son, He is anointed by a sinful woman, He is accused of acting under the power of the prince of demons, and He is asked for a miraculous sign to prove that He is who He claims to be. But there is one event in this reading that always stands out to me, and I want to discuss it.
This is the point where John the Baptist, who has now been thrown into prison by Herod and likely knows that his time is short, sends his disciples to question Jesus. After spending his life proclaiming the coming kingdom of God, he's gotta know...is Jesus really the One? I mean, it doesn't exactly add up in the human mind, for someone like John who has done the best he could at fulfilling God's calling on his life, to find himself in the situation he is in now, at the end of his life. So John just has to know, "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?" First, let me note that it's comforting that even someone who did as good of a job at fulfilling his role in God's kingdom as John the Baptist did, has a time of doubt.
Even more comforting, though, is Jesus' response to John's disciples. He simply asks them to report to John what they have seen and heard: "the blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor." Let the facts speak for themselves, Jesus says.
Surely John the Baptist, who had a measure of the Holy Spirit even from the womb, is familiar enough with the Messianic prophecies to know what Jesus is saying. Isaiah is one of the prophets who speaks often of what the Messiah would do and the kingdom He would bring about. "The eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will shout for joy..." Even the passage from Isaiah that Jesus quoted Himself while in the synagogue comes to mind: "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord..."
So, to answer John's question, is Jesus the One who was to come?
"Are the Messianic prophecies being fulfilled through me?"
"Blessed is he who does not take offense at me."
Blessed is John, who could believe that Jesus was the Messiah, even if he didn't understand the situation he was in.