Matthew 11:2-15—Advancing

Matthew 11:2–15 (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.’

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. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John came; and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. Let anyone with ears listen!

It must have been an exciting time to live. At least, this moment must have been exciting—sort of like you’re on the edge of something big. I wonder if people working for NASA in the ‘60s felt this way or the explorers who traveled the globe long ago.

Jesus is talking with his disciples and says, “From the time John the Baptist began preaching until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing…”

But then, I wonder what was this like for his disciples. You know, as it was played out in everyday life. I mean, they’re a handful of guys, following this rabbi around Galilee. Occasionally, they travel down to Judea. Crowds will notice him from time to time, but it’s not quite a nation preparing for a moon landing.

And then, I think about John and his disciples, because they’re the people who really speak to me in this reading. John’s in prison. Life hasn’t gone exactly how he hoped, but he knows about his cousin, Jesus. And it makes him wonder, “Is this the guy?” Now, he can’t ask him, so he sends some of his disciples who find him and ask that burning question, “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?”

And here’s why they speak to me: Jesus answer is rather obtuse. I mean, he doesn’t given them a definitive yes or no. And a lot of times, that’s exactly how my life feels. Jesus doesn’t say go this way or that. I just see what he’s done, and that needs to be enough for me, at least for right now.

And so, that’s my prayer today—that I would see what Jesus has done and trust: Trust that he’s got this under control even when my life feels out of control. Trust that I’m following him for some bigger reason when it sometimes feels like it’s just me and a handful of other people following him around Galilee. And trust that this really is the most exciting moment there ever was, because the Kingdom of Heaven is forcefully advancing. Amen.