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Friends in Christ Weekly Message
December 11, 2004

     John, meanwhile, had been locked up in prison. When he got wind of what Jesus was doing, he sent his own disciples to ask, "Are you the One we've been expecting, or are we still waiting?"
     Jesus told them, "Go back and tell John what's going on:
    The blind see,
    The lame walk,
    Lepers are cleansed,
    The deaf hear,
    The dead are raised,
    The wretched of the earth learn that God is on their side.
     "Is this what you were expecting? Then count yourselves most blessed!"

Matthew 11:2-6 (Message*)

In the time of Jesus, there were various expectations about the Messiah. Some thought the Messiah would come as a conquering king, destroying the enemies of the Hebrew people through military might. Even John the Baptist seemed to have trouble matching Jesus with his own image of the Messiah. From the little told of John's ministry in the scriptures, it sounds to me like he might have expected the Messiah to almost instantly bring about the Final Judgment. He seems to have seen Jesus as a man of God whom he could trust, but was he the Messiah? So he sent messengers to ask Jesus.

Jesus does not answer directly. Instead he notes things about his ministry - various types of healings and the giving of hope to the oppressed - which John will instantly recognize as fulfilling prophecies of Isaiah (Isaiah 35:5-6 and Isaiah 61:1). It is a much more powerful answer than a simple yes. Jesus goes on to indicate those whom expect this of the Messiah are blessed. The implication is left that those who are expecting a very different type of Messiah have missed the boat.

Don't we too sometimes have trouble recognizing the Messiah? We may hear Christ's voice, but not recognize it as from Christ because it's not what we're expecting. We can miss the boat because of our mistaken preconceptions. We can also hear another voice and mistake it as that of Christ because it fits our preconceptions.

We need to truly open ourselves, set aside our preconceptions, and let Christ fill us so that we come to know Him so intimately that we will be able to recognize when He comes to us and when a different spirit is speaking. We need to be familiar with the ways Christ has acted through history, as recorded in the Bible and in the experience of the church since biblical times. We need to be steeped in Christ, humble and discerning. May we each learn to recognize Christ's presence in our lives, and respond to His call upon us.

Bill Samuel

* The Message version ©2002 by Eugene H. Peterson.

©2004 Friends in Christ, Inc.

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Document last modified on Saturday, 18-Dec-2004 20:11:10 EST