Summary: Receive Jesus, revealed by God as the One who was to come.
First Presbyterian Church
Wichita Falls, Texas
December 15, 2013
Matthew 11:2-19 (NRSV)
2When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples 3and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” 4Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5the 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. 6And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”
7As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? 8What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. 9What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10This is the one about whom it is written,
‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare the way before you.’
11Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” 12From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. 13For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John came; 14and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. 15Let anyone with ears listen!
16“But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another,
17 ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we wailed, and you did not mourn.’
18For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon;’ 19the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”
Who is Jesus to you? This is the most important question anyone will ever ask you, and the answer you give will be the determining factor in your destiny, not only in this world but also in the world to come.
John the Baptist knew who Jesus was for himself. At least, he thought he did. He called him “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). But now John is in jail, and he is there because of sin. Not his own sin, but the sins of others. And he is about to be executed. And he may not be so sure anymore who Jesus is. So he sends his disciples to Jesus to ask Jesus about his identity. “Are you the one…?” he asks. “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?”
I want to turn that question back to you. I want to ask you, “Is Jesus THE ONE for you? Is he THE ONE in your life? Here in Matthew, chapter 11, you are given three facts to consider as you think about your answer. Consider them, if you will, and give answer.
The first fact is this: Jesus is revealed to us as the One who is to come. That’s what we see in verses 2 through 6. When John’s disciples approach Jesus with John’s question – “Are you the one…, or are we to wait for another?” – what does Jesus do? He tells them to report to John what they “hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them.” In other words, in the presence of Jesus “the kingdom of heaven has come” (Matt. 4:17).
Now, of course, it hasn’t come in all its fullness, but it has come. It has been launched. It’s not here in its final form, else John would not be in prison, facing execution – but the kingdom has been inaugurated. Things are happening. Good things are happening. Jesus is healing the sick and raising the dead and preaching the gospel. The kingdom of light is intruding into the kingdom of darkness. So go, Jesus says. Tell John.
But wait? What is John supposed to do with such information? What are we to do with it? Let me suggest two things, and they both amount to the same thing. We are to have hope. That is, we are to be confident that God is doing something magnificent. That’s the first thing. We are to take heart because God is rolling out his grand project to right what is wrong, to save what is lost, to restore what is ruined, not only in us but also in this sin-weary world.