Jesus and John the Baptist
Followers of John were paying close attention to everything Jesus was doing throughout the land. One day, these followers decided to visit John in prison and tell him everything they had seen. They told John about Jesus healing a man’s withered hand on the Sabbath, about Jesus healing a Centurion’s slave without even being in his presence–something physicians can’t even do. They told John they had even seen Jesus raise a widow’s dead son back to life down in Nain.
John sat and listened to his followers tell these stories but there was something troubling him. John’s entire life was dedicated to preparing the way of the Lord. One thing he knew to be true about the Messiah is that the Messiah would come and set free those in prison. John, being in prison himself, couldn’t help but wonder if Jesus was the Messiah and if he would come and free him from even his own chains.
So John picked two of his followers and sent them on a mission to go find Jesus. They were charged with asking him, “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?” They went on their way looking for Jesus and finally found him. They did exactly as John had told them and with excitement they asked Jesus, “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?”
At this point, the two John had sent were anxiously awaiting what Jesus would say next, but Jesus didn’t say anything. Their stomachs must have been churning in this silence. He didn’t use words to answer their question. Instead, Jesus went straight to work showing them that he was the Messiah. He cured the diseased, healed the sick, and cast out evil spirits in the possessed. He even gave sight to those previously blind and he did it all in front of these two disciples of John so they would know that the Messiah had indeed come.
Jesus sent them back on their way with a message of hope. Tell John, “The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are being raised back to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor. Blessed are those who do not turn away because of me.” With renewed hope and life, the two hurriedly began traveling back to the prison where John was being held.
When John’s followers were out of sight, Jesus began speaking to the crowd that had gathered. Many there in attendance had been baptized by John but there were also those who had rejected John and his baptism, mostly the religious elite. People in that day weren’t looking for someone like Jesus or John.
They expected the Messiah to be a mighty warrior with a mighty army who would come and set them free from what many saw as the greatest army the world had even seen, the Roman Army. No one expected John, a man living in the wilderness, surviving on honey and locusts, and to beat it all, dressing with clothing made of camels hair who was now holed up in prison, to be the one announcing that the Messiah had come.
The Messiah surely needed an announcement of his arrival that was much more extravagant and surely Jesus, the man from the good-for-nothing town of Nazareth wasn’t going to be the one to save God’s people. They needed a warrior, not a shepherd. No one saw it coming. No one expected it, but that day told a different story. Maybe that’s why today we really call it a Hail Mary.
Real wisdom is shown to be right by the lives of those who follow it. Real wisdom when it comes to God is to expect the unexpected. Jesus is among us already but if we don’t see him, maybe it’s because we’re looking in all the wrong places for all the wrong things. Maybe like the two John sent, we’re just waiting to hear God speak when he has already spoken and instead we need to open our eyes to see where God is moving.
A retelling from Luke 7:18–35