Across the Pastor’s Desk: Remember that Jesus is the one
Published 8:59 pm Thursday, December 12, 2019
Across the Pastor’s Desk by Katelyn Rakotoarivelo
Many churches will hear about John the Baptist in their Sunday readings this season of Advent.
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One of those readings is found in Matthew 11. John the Baptist is in prison, and he sends the disciples with a rather poignant question to ask Jesus: “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?”
This is much different from the fiery call to repentance we heard from John several chapters earlier. His confidence has faded, and understandably so. He preached and helped “prepare the way of the Lord,” and where has it gotten him? Thrown in jail.
The might of the Roman Empire is no joke. The powers that be want to squash all of this “Jesus nonsense.” Jesus is causing problems for them. He’s not abiding by their oppressive rules and regulations. He’s not upholding the status quo or exploiting the marginalized. Jesus is ushering in the kingdom of God, which confronts and defies the powers of the world.
And so John the Baptist’s strong and ardent proclamations for Jesus earn him a spot behind bars. No doubt he’s wondering if this is truly all worth it.
And so he sends word by the disciples to Jesus: “Are you the one who is to come?” Are you really the Messiah, the son of God? Are you really the one in whom God dwells?
We might find ourselves asking the same question all these centuries later: “Is Jesus the one who is to come?”
Perhaps we’re not sitting in prison, but there are challenges and blows to our faith, like when someone really young dies, or when our family breaks apart, or when natural disasters ravage our world.
I don’t know what it is that holds you captive and makes you ask this question. But there’s something for all of us. It doesn’t mean we don’t believe; it means we experience the challenges of the world, and we know the world is not as God intends it to be. So we ask: Jesus, are you really here?
When the disciples come to Jesus with John’s question, Jesus responds, “Go and tell John what you hear and see.” Jesus wants the disciples to remember all they’ve experienced, and to share that hope with John.
Even in the face of the cruel Roman Empire, there is hope and new life to be found in Jesus, to be found in the Messiah, to be found in the one who is to come.
Sometimes we have to do the same. We have to remember what we’ve seen and heard from Jesus, especially in the midst of difficult times. We have to remember all we know to be true.
Jesus is at work in the world. He is the one who is to come. He is the Messiah. He is the one in whom God chose to dwell. And he continues to walk and breathe among us through the Holy Spirit.
So, consider, what makes you ask: Jesus, are you the one who is to come?
What holds you captive to only see the bad in the world? Whatever it is, don’t look away from it. Look more closely, and may you find Jesus at work and experience the radical hope and healing he brings where you least expect it this Advent season.
Katelyn Rakotoarivelo is a pastor at Concordia Lutheran Church of Pickerel Lake in Albert Lea.