Friday, October 14, 2011

the one to come

In our Gospel reading this morning, we are told how St John the Baptist, in his prison cell hears about all that Jesus is doing and sends word to him asking 'if he is the one to come?' And Jesus' answer is not a simple 'yes - yes I am!' Rather he says: 'look at what I am doing. The blind see; the lame walk; the deaf hear; lepers are cleansed; the dead are raised; and the poor have the good news brought to them.' That is Jesus' answer to John's question. Not a 'yes' but 'look at the evidence and decide for yourself.'

It is interesting that it is John the Baptist who asks the question. In all four Gospels it is he who first points to Jesus as being the one who he had said was to come. Is he doubting at this point? Hard to blame him if he is: he is in prison for offending the most powerful people in his world. People who literally have the power of life and death over others. He must know he hasn't got long to live. He's alone, and vulnerable, and needs reassurance.

A bit like most of us at times. Perhaps more often than we'd like to admit. Maybe that is why Jesus answers him as he does. John needed more than a mere 'yes' under the circumstances. And Jesus gave him the best answer possible - an answer that says 'you know what I have done - who else could I be?'

And of course, he didn't just give that answer to John. He gave it to all John disciples as well. And all his own. Which includes us. So when we face the times when we are feeling vulnerable and perhaps beset by doubts we have more than just a 'yes,' more than just a claim which we can not verify. We have all that Jesus did. And they give us the same answer that they gave John. We see what he has done. And we know that he can be no other than the one who was to come.

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