Have you ever invested yourself in something, only to find out it wasn’t what you expected? It happens all the time, doesn’t it? I remember the first time I saw Plymouth Rock, the famous Plymouth Rock of pilgrim fame. I was expecting a huge landmark-type rock jutting up out of the Atlantic that the Mayflower would anchor near. I was not expecting a small boulder – if you could even call it that -smaller than some rocks we have in our yard!
Our Advent Scripture harkens back to our old-on-the-fringe-of-society friend, John the Baptizer. At this point in his life, he is languishing in prison, and has been since the shortly after Jesus began his public ministry. It seems no one likes to be called an incestuous adulterer, especially the ruler Herod, so he put John in prison.
John has lots of time to think about his life and he’s been hearing a lot about his cousin, Jesus. In fact, he’s beginning to wonder if he missed it about Jesus. He was waiting for the Messiah and had even preached all about him. John was expecting someone who was going to be to a little more kingly, a political ruler setting people free from oppression and all that. Instead, he’s his cousin Jesus socializing as one of Jerusalem’s most popular dinner guests, healing people and talking about the poor and meek being blessed.
Since he can’t go ask Jesus directly about all this, he sends his disciples.
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.”
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.’
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. ~ Matthew 11:2-11.
Our focus for this third week of Advent will be all about our expectations and God’s answers to those expectations. The answer Jesus gives to John’s disciples is almost a non-answer. He asks the disciples of John to look around them and see what’s happening—blind people seeing, lame people walking, deaf people hearing, lepers being cleansed, dead people being raised, poor people getting good news for a change. Tell John what’s happening, he says. Let what’s happening be the answer. Not the answer John was expecting, I’m sure.
What is your expectation for God’s role in your life or our world?
As I look around and see what’s happening, help me be open to being used by God in God’s answer to the questions being asked. Amen.