2 John the Baptist, who was in prison, heard about all the things the Messiah was doing. So he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, 3 “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?” 4 Jesus told them, “Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen— 5 the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.” 6 And he added, “God blesses those who do not fall away because of me.”Matthew chapter 11, verses 2 thru 6; from the New Living Translation (NLT)
What Are You Doing? That’s the question a mom asks her child as she’s reaching for the cooking jar, or as her son has permanent markers about to become the next great artist on the wall of the hall. Or it’s the question a wife asks her husband when she catches him looking on Facebook Marketplace at motorcycles. It’s a question about desire and intent. And it’s a question that all of us really need to spend a long and deep time thinking about: Desire and Intent.
If you overlooked today’s passage, please go back and read it; if you did read it, read it again! John the Baptist, who was in prison. . . John is in a dark place–literally and it seems also spiritually. Two of his disciples visit him and he sends them on a mission: Go find my cousin Jesus and ask Him: Are you really the Messiah or should we go looking for someone else? I find this story to be another one of those I classify as This Gives Me Some Hope story! I mean, if the man Jesus called the greatest one who ever lived struggled with doubts, then there has to be hope for me, too.
So off they go on their Mission. They find Jesus and present Him with John’s question: “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?” Now, I would call this a Yes Or No question. Many times when I ask a Yes Or No question I get a “War And Peace” answer. Look, just answer my question Yes or No; that’s all I need from you. I don’t need to hear a Macbeth soliloquy, thank you very much. Jesus could have answered their question with a simple Yes. But He didn’t.
Instead, Jesus says much more; and it’s a great thing that He did: “Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen—the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.” And he added, “God blesses those who do not fall away because of me.” See and hear the power in Jesus’ answer. It’s not a Yes Or No. It’s all about what He is doing! He knew Cousin John needed more than a simple Yes Or No! He needed assurance that would build up his confidence.
The Question about Messiah is more than a one word answer. It’s about what The Messiah is doing. And it’s also a question about us and directed toward us. The question Jesus is asking us isn’t: “Are you a Christian?” The question that He is asking, and by the way, so is the world, is “What are you doing?” Are you mad at what is happening in the world? Are you mad at what is happening in the United Methodist Institution? Disappointed? Fearful? Worried about the real estate of your church? If so, then it’s time to do what the GPS does when we miss a turn: It’s time to recalculate!
What are you doing? If you are serious about being a disciple and follower of Jesus, (notice I didn’t say if you are a Christian) then you and I should be doing the very same things that Jesus was doing when John the Baptist sent his question to Jesus. “the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.” We need to focus on where people are hurting, where people are broken, and the places that desperately need The Good News.
So, What Are You Doing, Right Now? Make sure it’s what Jesus is doing Right Now! Oh, one more thing for my fellow Wesleyan Tribe. Don’t overlook Verse 6: And he added, “God blesses those who do not fall away because of me.” Don’t worry about things like money and buildings. Just remember what Jesus added to His answer to Cousin John: “God blesses those who do not fall away because of me.”