December 11, 2016
Introduction: When Rick Stilley put the statue of Jesus in front of the church I could not resist and asked people if they had seen Jesus? There were some quizzical looks like was I crazy? Or just what was I asking them! As I asked that question my assumption was we see things and yet do not really see them. Something is changed and we go on as if nothing has really happened. One of the reasons I enjoy being a priest here at St. Michael’s so much is that things are constantly changing and we are forced to have to take time to see things anew. This is the challenge of Advent, to see things anew.
I) John is in prison. He asks several of his disciples to inquire of Jesus just who is he. This may seem a little odd since at his baptism John seems to know just who he is telling Jesus he is not worthy to baptize him. We may read more into this statement than is really there, yes John is certainly indicating that Jesus is greater than he or ranks before him. He may not however, be saying that Jesus is the awaited for Messiah. Instead he may be referring to Jesus being either the Messiah or the forerunner of the Messiah the Elijah figure. What we do know is that John has heard reports of Jesus and is confused by what he has heard. This should not surprise us, for even Jesus’ own disciples were confused by Jesus at times seeming to get it and then just as quickly becoming unsure just who this ‘teacher’ ‘healer’ and ‘prophet’ actually was in the sight of God.
II) Jesus does not answer their question directly. Instead he points out what he has done. He cures the blind, the lame walk and the deaf shall hear, which is referencing Isaiah 35:5 – 6 (p. 652). Jesus concludes his answer by referring to Isaiah 61: 1 (p. 681) where he announces that he has come to preach good news to the poor. The proof is if you will in the pudding.
III) As John’s disciples are leaving Jesus tells the crowd that there is no one born of a woman greater than John the Baptist and yet the least in God’s Kingdom is greater than John. What is going on here? Jesus is drawing a contrast between John the Baptist and those prophets who have gone before him only being able to prophesize the coming of the Christ whereas John has actually seen the Messiah. Yet John will not live to see the coming of God’s kingdom fulfilled in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Thus those who have that opportunity to witness this coming of the kingdom of God, will then be able to have entrance into God’s Kingdom. Our challenge is to see God’s kingdom and respond to its call. What do you believe that god is calling you to do this Advent Season?