Jesus and John the Baptist – Matthew 11.1-11
Things have not panned out as John expected, to say the least. He is in prison and, to make matters worse, the Messiah for whose sake he has suffered this punishment is not behaving at all how a Messiah should. Is he really the one they have been waiting for?
Notice that Jesus doesn’t answer this question directly. Instead he says “say what you have seen”. What they have seen are miraculous works of mercy. And that is, in a way, the answer to John’s question. That is the sort of Messiah Jesus is.
Perhaps John was, quite understandably, looking for a Messiah who would come in power , throwing off the yoke of oppression, dramatically changing the course of history, and proving that he, John, had been right all along.
Perhaps, on some level, that’s what we all want to see: a God who intervenes to save us, brings change with is obvious and immediate, and in doing so proves us right (and righteous).
But that isn’t what John got, and it isn’t what we get either. Instead, we see the outrageous mercy of Jesus, freely offered to everyone without exception, whether we like it (and whether we like them) or not. It was outrageous then, and it still is now.
All the people you’d rather be rid of, Jesus welcomes.
Those you consider beyond the pale, Jesus embraces.
Your worst enemy, Jesus died for.
And those with whom you think you are forever and irreconcilably at odds, Jesus invites to sit at his table beside you.
And so everything changes.
But not in the way John expected it to change. Not with thunder and flashes of fire, a display of invincible might. But with a meek humility which is stronger than any power. Jesus is transforming all things, all people, the whole of creation, more and more into his own likeness.