“I am not a smart man, particularly, but one day, at long last, I stumbled from the dark woods of my own, and my family’s, and my country’s past, holding in my hands these truths: that love grows from the rich loam of forgiveness; that mongrels make good dogs; that the evidence of God exists in the roundness of things.”
-“I Know This Much Is True” by Wally Lamb
Are you the One?
Who is the One who is Omnipotent, Omniscient, & Omnipresent? The same One the jailed John the Baptist referred to when he said, “Are you the One who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Matthew 11:3)
This story requires a little background to explain the enormity of John’s question. You see, Jesus and John were profoundly connected.
Four hundred years earlier, Malachi (the last book of the Old Testament) foretold that God would send a messenger to announce the arrival of the One – the messenger was John. Their births were foretold but hard to believe – Mary was a virgin and her sister Elizabeth was old and barren. When a pregnant Elizabeth heard Mary’s arrival one day, the baby [John the Baptist] leapt in her womb.
During the first 10 chapters of Matthew (the first book of the New Testament), the Divine Plan is proceeding according to plan.
Through a thorough and detailed genealogy of Mary’s child, Jesus is identified as the One. Check.
The wise men come to visit Him. Check.
He escapes from Herod. Check.
John the Baptist baptizes Jesus in between meals of wild locusts and honey in a swimsuit made of camel hair and leather. Check
Jesus survives Satan in the desert and starts teaching what judgment and mercy mean to God. Check.
A leper is healed and a daughter raised from the dead. Check. Check.
The 12 disciples are drafted and commissioned. Check x 12.
All divinely good things. Except one thing …
By chapter 11, God’s messenger, John, is in jail – understandably a bit dazed and very disappointed. Not only that, but he and his friends were looking for a liberator, a king – not just a nice man with degrees in philosophy and medicine and a gift for public speaking. When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the One who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”
Knowing that He is indeed the One, it is interesting how Jesus responds to John’s friends. He doesn’t say, “Oh yeah! John! I forgot about him. Yes, by all means, go get him out of jail!”
Knowing what the Jews were wanting and expecting, neither does He say, “Oh but I am God! Really, I AM! Didn’t you hear what I did at that wedding in Cana? They are still talking about my wine!”
No. Instead, Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 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. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.” (Matthew 11:4-6)
Then empathizing with his cousin’s wounded spirit and that of his friends, He gives John a little endorsement.
As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. Then what 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: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.”
“I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. He who has ears, let him hear.” (Matthew 11:11-15)
I’d like to put that on my resume. That oughta fix things. right? John may be in jail, but he is God’s chosen one, right? He’ll be okay and more good things will happen again soon. Jesus just needed to some more time to works things out.
No. Three chapters later, John the Baptist’s head was on a platter even if his heart was in heaven.
I have been taught is that when circumstances are dire and the light at the end of the tunnel turned out to be an oncoming train, it is not a sign that God is overwhelmed or doesn’t want to right the wrongs that have been committed. It is that we are not in heaven yet. The Author and Finisher of our faith is not finished with us. And while we wait on heaven, the poor need food, the homeless need homes, and the sick need to be healed. And when we do that work, we demonstrate and experience a little bit of heaven on earth.
“When Jesus got the news [that John had been beheaded], he slipped away by boat to an out-of-the-way place by himself. But unsuccessfully–someone saw him and the word got around. Soon a lot of people from the nearby villages walked around the lake to where he was. When he saw them coming, he was overcome with pity and healed their sick.” (Matthew 14:13-14)
“There are people in the world so hungry,
that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.”
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