December 16, 2019
Pastor John Hering
2 While John was in prison, he heard about the things Christ was doing. He sent two of his disciples 3 to ask him, “Are you the Coming One or should we wait for someone else?”
4 Jesus answered them, “Go, 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 gospel is preached to the poor. 6 Blessed is the one who does not take offense at me.”
7 As these two were leaving, Jesus began to talk to the crowds about John. “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 8 What did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? No, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. 9 So what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you! And he is much more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written, ‘Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ 11 Amen I tell you: Among those born of women there has not appeared anyone greater than John the Baptist. Yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.Matthew 11:2-11
If ignorance is bliss, then wouldn’t you think it makes sense that NOT knowing something should give us a sense of peace and relief? Well, Steph couldn’t stand it! She thought she did well on her semester exam but her grade wasn’t posted yet and that was driving her crazy! Mike thought he had a really good interview for the new dream job and has kept his eyes glued to his email all day waiting to see if he got the new job or not! Randy saw presents under the Christmas tree, but he didn’t know for sure which presents were his and he just couldn’t hardly wait until Christmas to rip them open to confirm his suspicions. Ignorance isn’t always bliss. You go to the cardiologist to have a heart test and all turns out great…. But during the test they found out something else was wrong that you didn’t know about before. Today in Matthew’s gospel we learn about John and Baptist sitting in a jail cell. He poses a very interesting question about Jesus, “Are you the Coming One or should we wait for someone else?” This question is a perfect question for the 3rd Sunday of Advent. We all want to hear the answer so we can rejoice and have real hope. This was the same hope in the hearts of all the Old Testament and New Testament believers: “Are you the Coming One or should we wait for someone else?” Today Matthew’s gospel tells us to:
Rejoice! You Can Know For Sure!
When We Wonder
We would expect this question to come into the minds of people because of the darkness of sin all around. How true in John’s day! They knew the history leading up to this point. When Cain was born his parents thought they had the promised Savior! But, sadly, he was their worst nightmare by killing their son Abel. When Noah was born his dad said, “This one will bring us comfort during our work and the hard labor that we must perform with our hands because the Lord has cursed the soil” (Gen 5:29). A hint toward the promised Messiah! Abraham hoped for this offspring from the woman when he heard the Lord say, “In your seed all the nations of the earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice” (Gen 22:18). Jacob added to the pieces to the prophecy puzzle when he talked about a peace that would come from his son, Judah. Isaiah prophesied about Immanuel—the son of a virgin. Micah foretold that the Ruler of Israel was to be born in the town of David—Bethlehem. All of these prophecies were shining stars in a world darkened by sin.
John the Baptist and his disciples knew of these prophesies, yet there was wonder, some reason that John sent his disciples to Jesus with this question, “While John was in prison, he heard about the things Christ was doing. He sent two of his disciples 3 to ask him, “Are you the Coming One or should we wait for someone else?” We know John’s testimony about Jesus was solid when he proclaimed at the banks of the Jordan, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). It’s not hard of us to imagine the doubt in the hearts of the disciples, for if Jesus was the promised Messiah, why would he allow his prophet John to be rotting in prison? You know what time it was? It was time to clear all wonder and Know For Sure that Jesus is the promised Messiah by going to talk to him and just plain ask him, “Are you the Coming One or should we wait for someone else?”
When we wonder, we want to know for sure, too! Like John and his disciples, there are demons in our life that cause us to be afraid, doubt or wonder. I’m not talking about the fear people have of public speaking, clowns or spiders. I’m talking about the fear of life and death. Maybe in life it’s because of your tests at school, graduation and future employment. Maybe your life is closing in on you because of health. Maybe it’s a future spouse, or feeling like you have no life at all. Maybe you’ve even been tempted to wonder, is Jesus really the Savior of the world? Then let’s join John and his disciples to hear Jesus’ answer and Know For Sure because
Of What We See and Hear
When you see or hear something, how can you be sure it’s not fake? If the phone rings and the person on the other end claims to be from law enforcement and then shares information about you that you think nobody could ever know about you, how do you know they’re not fake? When the email comes advertising a great deal on Rolex watches, Gucci handbags or diamond rings and your fork over the money for such items, how do you know they’re genuine? How would you react if they said, “It’s a fake!” I’d get angry! So, John’s disciples came to Jesus and asked him, “Are you a fake?” But, Jesus didn’t react with anger, but love. He gave them a clear, satisfying and convincing answer; “4 Jesus answered them, “Go, 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 gospel is preached to the poor. 6 Blessed is the one who does not take offense at me.” Jesus’ answer really points them back to the Old Testament Scriptures. Jesus was fulfilling exactly as the OT had predicted. What did they see and hear Jesus doing? Exactly what they expected.
That is also an answer for us to ponder this Advent season. Rejoice when you open up your eyes of faith and see the majestic Jesus fulfilling the mission God the Father sent him to do. See Jesus stand among the people and heal the sick, restore sight to the blind, the lame to walk, the deaf to hear and raise the dead. Then listen to what he said to Mary and Martha when he came to their house because their brother Lazarus was dead, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will live, even if he dies. 26 And whoever lives and believes in me will never perish” (John 11:25-26). What do you hear and see? You hear his words and see them fulfilled as he calls Lazarus from the dead. Is this just another prophet with some awesome powers? No! It is the promised Messiah who came to save us all! The disciples were convinced as they left to share the answer with John.
We would do well to do the same. You know people who doubt that Jesus is our Savior. We hear people accuse us of being weak because we trust in Jesus. Many ridicule Jesus as being just one of many religious leaders. What better reaction than that of John—send them to Jesus. Share the wonderful works of Jesus and let the power of the Holy Spirit open up their blindness. Yes, it is a blindness more powerful than physical blindness. It is the blindness to the truth of God’s Word. It is the blindness that does not know the way to eternal life in heaven. Share what you see and hear from God’s Word and pray for Jesus to open up their eyes to faith.
Isn’t that what you do when Satan comes with his temptations and doubts? When sin and death are clawing at our hearts? What shall we do when the temporary remedies of this life are no longer working? We can cry out to our gracious God, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean!” (Luke 5:12). Can you imagine Jesus telling John’s disciples, “I’ve had it with you people! You’re not worth my time anymore!” That is the answer we deserve. However, Jesus’ answer is shocking, amazing, clear and simple: “I will make you clean! My blood offered on the cross cleanses you from all your sin…whoever believes in me shall not perish, but have eternal life!” Now, go ahead, look at your spiritual leprosy—it’s gone! Look your spiritual blindness—you can’t find it, can you? It’s gone! Look into your heart and what do you find there? Jesus who died to save you. Look what you see and hear and Rejoice! Jesus is the one we were expecting!
How gracious he is! Not only for us, but for all people. “7 As these two were leaving, Jesus began to talk to the crowds about John. “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 8 What did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? No, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. 9 So what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you! And he is much more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written, ‘Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ 11 Amen I tell you: Among those born of women there has not appeared anyone greater than John the Baptist. Yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” God was gracious then to send out John to prepare people to celebrate and arrival of Jesus. We get to do the same! John was in prison, but that didn’t stop him from directing his disciples to Jesus. None of us are in prison, but it should upset us if the concerns and cares of this life are getting in the way of us inviting our family, relatives, acquaintances and neighbors to come and see Jesus. Let this Christmas be the one for you to invite someone who is wondering about their life, their eternity, their relationship with God – to Hear and See Jesus – and Rejoice! You know for sure that he is your Savior! Amen!