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Gospel of Matthew 11: 2-6 (NIV)
2 When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples 3 to ask him, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”
4 Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 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. 6 Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.”
“Are you the one who was to come?” Was this an odd question for John the Baptiser to ask of Jesus? When John baptised Jesus in the river Jordan he clearly recognised who Jesus was. We know that John had specific expectations of the Messiah; while he was still in the desert these had been revealed to him by the Spirit of God. Jesus responded to John’s questions with evidence of how, even then, he was fulfilling Old Testament prophecy.
There is much in the book of the prophet Isaiah that anticipates the ministry of the Messiah.
In chapter 29 he wrote:
18 In that day the deaf will hear
the words of the scroll,
and out of gloom and darkness
the eyes of the blind will see.
In chapter 35 he wrote:
4 … “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come,
he will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution he will come to save you.”
5 Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
6 Then will the lame leap like a deer,
and the mute tongue shout for joy.
In chapter 61 he wrote:
1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release for the prisoners …
Perhaps John was expecting that every blind person would receive full sight, every lame person would walk, every person with leprosy would be cured, every deaf person would hear and the end of the age would be heralded by the raising of the dead to glory.
Perhaps we are expecting in these end times more divine intervention in our world than is currently evident. Christians and non-Christians alike ask in a world of suffering and persecution why God seems to be absent and why his miraculous intervention is not the norm.
How do we respond? Do we feel some level of dissatisfaction with the manner in which God is “running the world”? Do we wish he would do better, do more, in accordance with our sense of priorities, justice and righteousness?
How do we view freedom for captives and release for prisoners, for example? How important do we regard winning freedom from guilt and sin and winning release for prisoners of anger or of their inability to forgive? These are but some of the consequences of the Messiah’s death, resurrection and ascension to be with the Father?
Jesus said to the disciples of John, “Blessed is the (person) who does not fall away on account of me.” Jesus was urging John to be content with the glimpses of heavenly reign that he had already displayed. We too are to be content with what has thus far been revealed. For those of us who hope, more will be revealed in God’s good time. We are required to watch and pray.