Matthew 11:2-11 (NRSV)
When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”
As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. What then 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,
‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way before you.’
who will prepare your way before you.’
Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
Advent --- is a season for waiting, but there is one important question --- What are we waiting for?
Seriously, what are we really waiting for?
If you look around and asked somebody who knows nothing about this season and asked them what it all about --- what would they tell you we are waiting for?
While we like to say Jesus is the reason for the season, the sad truth is: Santa is what dominates our society and appears to be what the season is really all about.
This question of what we are waiting for in Advent is nothing new.
Our scripture this morning is an interesting one.
John the Baptist is in prison, and he hears about this itinerant preacher and so he sends some of his disciples to ask the all important question.
John the Baptist is afraid that he might not have the right guy, so he sends his team to the source to find out.
“Are you the One we’ve been expecting, or are we still waiting?” (The Message)
When you hear this question --- is should stop you in your tracks.
John is asking, WHAT?
He doesn't KNOW who Jesus is?
How can that even be?
It is almost as if John wants to make sure Jesus is the One, because he doesn't want to end up on the wrong side of history.
He doesn't want to end up following the wrong guy
And then Jesus answer is even more astounding.
First he says to John's disciples: Watch what is going on and go back and tell him, and he will know the answer.
But, it is when John's disciples leave that the conversation really gets interesting.
The people that had gone down to the river to see John probably went expecting to see a madman putting on a religious show.
Instead what they got was a man announcing the advent of God’s Messiah.
Many weren’t ready for what they received.
Perhaps we’re still not ready.
Jesus calls them on the carpet and says to those who had gone out to see John baptizing in the wilderness:
“What did you expect when you went out to see him in the wild? A weekend camper? Hardly. What then? A sheik in silk pajamas? Not in the wilderness, not by a long shot. What then? A prophet? That’s right, a prophet! Probably the best prophet you’ll ever hear. He is the prophet that Malachi announced when he wrote, ‘I’m sending my prophet ahead of you, to make the road smooth for you.’ (The Message)
We struggle with the same questions that John and the Pharisees had.
Is Jesus the one?
And if he is, what does that mean for our lives!
As we read this episode in Matthew’s Gospel, we too are challenged to reconsider what we expect to find when we leave the safe and acceptable confines of our sanctuary this morning.
What do we expect to find in our neighborhood once we leave church?
What did you come to church to learn about?
That is the question of Advent --- and we all ask it
"Are you the one I've been waiting for, or shall I wait for another?"
· Is this the present I've been waiting for?
· Is this the job I've been waiting for?
· Is this the date I've been waiting for?
· Is this really the house we wanted so desperately?
· Is this really the person I loved years ago? Is this really the person I love now?
Jesus tells us, that the true gift of Advent --- if we have eyes so we can see beyond our expectations --- if we are willing to look around us and see all the places where Jesus is working and inviting us --- the true gift of Advent --- is reconciliation and peace.
“Go and tell John what you have heard and seen. The blind are now able to see, and the lame can walk. People with leprosy are being healed, and the deaf can hear. The dead are raised to life, and the poor are hearing the good news.”
Jesus came to the blind, the lame, the lepers, the deaf, the poor, the dead.
He came to the downtrodden.
He came in humility for the humble.
He came for those who did not have it all worked out for themselves.
He came for those who knew they needed Him.
Some of us think we have finally got it all.
We have the house we always wanted.
We have the job we always wanted.
We have that spouse, that husband or wife, who is the answer to all our dreams.
We even have the car we always wanted.
We got our children into good schools.
But is that all there is?
Is this what we were waiting for?
Listen to what Jesus told John's disciples when they asked that question.
Jesus said, "When you get me, the lame walk, the blind receive their sight, the dead are raised, the poor get good news."
What does all that mean?
It means that John's disciples, who had already repented and turned around once, were going to have to repent and turn around again.
It means that Jesus comes to reverse things.
What was dead is now raised.
What was blind now sees.
What was lame now walks.
When we get the gift of Jesus, our lives are changed.
The sign that Jesus has come --- is that people are changed.
Do we really want the gift of Christ this year?
· We will recognize the gift of love and peace when we recognize that people have changed.
· We will recognize the gift of love and peace when we recognize that we must change, too.
The spiritual word for that change is repentance, to turn around.
No matter how young or old we are, whether we are waiting to receive that perfect bicycle, waiting to receive that special answer from our loved one, waiting for that special moment of reconciliation with our children or with our parents, we are also waiting ultimately for Jesus.
Jesus will change us.
Jesus will turn us around.
Even if we've changed before, --- even if we have repented before, --- Jesus will raise the dead again.
Jesus is what we are waiting forJesus is what we have come to see --- and Jesus will come!