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? Matthew 11:2-3 (NRSV)
As a little child I loved to sing the song “Jesus Loves Me” while attending Sunday School. I grew up believing that Jesus loved me and that he would make all things right. But experiences during my teenage years caused me to question if Jesus really loved me. Those experiences included two destructive tornadoes, the death of an uncle, a teenage neighbor, the father of two of my best friends, President Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. My belief in a Jesus who loved me was shaken. If Jesus loved me why did all the bad things happen? I can understand John’s question about Jesus. Last week we heard John proclaiming that the coming of Jesus would bring fire, destruction and judgment. John the Baptist expectation of Jesus was that he would be a powerful king like David who would free the Jews from the Romans. When Jesus didn’t start a revolt John began to wonder if Jesus was the Messiah or if they should look for another. Jesus responded “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.” (Matt 11:4-5 (NRSV) It seems like Jesus’ answer was an attempt to brush John off. I don’t believe this is the case. The Old Testament viewed God’s activity in the world through the ways Jesus lifted up and Jesus was fulfilling them. The message of the angel to Joseph “They shall name him Emmanuel, which means, God is with us” (Matt 1:23) was true. It should be noted that in the Greek there is no definite article and the verbs are all present tense. What that means is that Jesus’ healing continues and that not everyone will be healed. The Greek is not “the blind see again” but rather “some blind are seeing again, some lame are walking again, some lepers are being cleansed again, etc.”. Not everyone that Jesus came in contact with was healed but those who were showed that God’s power was active in the world. The same is true today. God is still active in the world. The problem is that people’s expectations of Jesus are that he would answer every prayer and make the world a perfect place. When that doesn’t happen questions arise as if Jesus is really the one. We need to open our eyes and see all the ways Jesus is active in our world. Last week I heard the story of a person from Dakota Milestones who will be receiving a cornea transplant and will be able to see again. A few weeks ago I listened to a Gideon presentation about how God’s word is continuing to be spread throughout the world. God is active in our world today. We need to open our eyes and ears and we will see and hear of the ways that Jesus is still our Emmanuel.