Hope and Change

The disciples of John reported to him about all these things. Summoning two of his disciples, John sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?”

When the men came to Him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to You, to ask, ‘Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?’ ”

At that very time He cured many people of diseases and afflictions and evil spirits; and He gave sight to many who were blind.

And He answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have the gospel preached to them. Blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.” (Luke 7:18-23)

John had spent his last few years like limo driver at an airport waiting for his passenger near the baggage claim, holding up a sign with the name “Messiah” scrawled on it. John’s question about Jesus was not just a consequence of discouragement from being locked away in prison. His question grew out of what people in the day believed about the coming of God’s kingdom.

The “Expected One” was the Messiah. According to Jewish tradition, there were two Messiahs coming, a “Messiah son of David” who would rule and reign as king and a “Messiah son of Joseph” who would suffer and die. The idea of two Messiahs grew out of the two pictures of the Messiah in the Old Testament: one reigning, one suffering and dying. So John’s question was not to wonder so much about the reality of Jesus’ messiahship, as to wonder which of the two he might be.

Jesus responded to John’s question by healing the sick, casting out demons, and restoring sight to the blind. Then he sent John’s messengers back to report what they had seen.

Why did Jesus end by telling John that the one who didn’t take offense at Jesus would be happy? Because the Pharisees and other religious leaders were seeing the same thing that John’s messengers saw, but they only criticized what Jesus was doing. Jesus believed that John’s reaction was likely to be something different than that of the Pharisees.

So will we respond Jesus’ answer like a Pharisee—or like John the Baptist?

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm a deacon at Quartz Hill Community Church. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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