“Are You the Messiah we have been expecting or should we keep looking for someone else?”
From his prison cell, John the Baptist sent a message to Jesus, expressing his doubts, questions, and concerns. Do you ever have doubts, questions, and concerns? Do you wonder if Jesus is who you were expecting, who you need?
It is important to understand context in life. For John, he had lost more than his freedom. For a man more at home in the wilderness, the confinement of Herod’s dungeon was crushing his spirit. Life can do that to us. Painful, difficult circumstances can shatter our dreams, our confidence, our faith.
Remember, this is the same man who boldly proclaimed the coming of the Messiah, the Chosen One who would usher in a new age. In the gospel of John, the Baptist clearly announced: “Behold, The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘A man is coming after me, who is far greater that I am, for He existed long before me.” After the baptism of Jesus, John exclaimed, “I testify that He is the Chosen One of God” (John 1:29-34).
John’s world had been rocked. He was defeated, discouraged, and depressed. That world had been shrunk to the hole in the ground he would occupy until Herod would order him executed. Did Jesus matter to John in those dismal conditions?
Jesus sent word back to John: “Go back to John and tell him what you have seen and heard – the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor. And tell him, ‘God blesses those who do not turn away because of Me’” (Matthew 11:4-6).
What was the message Jesus sent to John? Perhaps it was Jesus’ way of confirming the revelation that John had first received. “Nothing has changed, John. Lives are being changed by the power of the Gospel. The eternal destiny of those who cling to their faith will be secured by the Chosen One of God, the One who will indeed take away the sin of the world.”
As we begin this journey of personal discovery, we gather at the table of the Lord this Sunday. We seek to answer the question: “Why should Jesus matter?” I pray that in our seeking each of us will learn a bit more about the extended question: “Why should Jesus matter to me?”