By Carey Helmink
Several years ago, I shared this same scripture. Maybe some of you can read the bible through in a year, but it takes me 2-3 years, and so I have just rolled around to this passage again. It always stops me in my tracks. And I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it in the past couple of weeks.
Luke 7:18-22 (New Living Translation)
The disciples of John the Baptist told John about everything Jesus was doing. So John called for two of his disciples, and he sent them to the Lord to ask him, “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?”
John’s two disciples found Jesus and said to him, “John the Baptist sent us to ask, ‘Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?’”
At that very time, Jesus cured many people of their diseases, illnesses, and evil spirits, and he restored sight to many who were blind. Then he told John’s disciples, “Go back to John and tell him what you have seen and heard—the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.”
A couple of things jump out at me.
First of all, Jesus does not get annoyed at John’s questions. Keep in mind that John actually heard the voice of God say that Jesus was his son when he baptized Jesus. If anyone on the planet KNEW who Jesus was, it was John. But John is rotting away in prison and let’s be honest–sometimes when life gets rough, we begin to doubt what we KNOW to be true.
Jesus doesn’t reprimand John or his disciples for their doubt.
But he also doesn’t go out of his way to comfort John or to remedy his situation. It seems likely that Jesus was within walking distance of where John was imprisoned–John’s disciples obviously came from John to question Jesus. And in the very next verses Jesus tells that crowd how awesome John is, but I’m guessing that during his earthly stay, John never knew what Jesus said about him in that moment.
Jesus doesn’t give John a simple, straightforward answer either.
What Jesus does is remind John of what he’s up to and asks John to THINK.
“Go back to John and tell him what you have seen and heard—the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.”
He doesn’t say, “Yes, of course I’m the Messiah. Remember?” He gives John the evidence and asks him to work it out for himself.
When we are in the midst of struggles, no one has to remind us to FEEL. Feelings occur. It’s not a bad thing. It’s part of what makes us human. But in the midst of struggles, sometimes we have to be reminded to THINK.
Listen to the words of John Piper:
“Jesus took our nature in Bethlehem, to die our death in Jerusalem — all that we might be fearless in our city today. Yes, fearless. Because if the biggest threat to my joy is gone, then why should I fret over the little ones? How can you say (really!), ‘Well, I’m not afraid to die but I’m afraid to lose my job?’ No. No. Think!
If death . . . is no longer a fear, we’re free, really free. Free to take any risk under the sun for Christ and for love.”
Some of you feel close to God today, but some of you are in John’s shoes and doubt and disillusionment are your companions. Either way, let’s engage our minds as we walk through the Shadowlands. Let’s think about who God is, wrestle with him if we need to, and know that we are always loved.