Luke 7:18-23

The disciples of John reported all these things to him. So John summoned two of his disciples and sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?”

When the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?’” Jesus had just then cured many people of diseases, plagues, and evil spirits, and had given sight to many who were blind.

And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.” Luke 7:18-23

“I worked hard to climb the ladder of success only to learn that it was leaned up against the wrong building.”

There are many variations on this old saying but they all communicate the same thing. None of us want to waste our time, our talents, our energy. None of us want to be caught in the act of backing the wrong horse. None of us appreciate discovering that we’re on the wrong track.

But we ought to. And the sooner the better.

It is actually very reassuring to me to read about John the Baptizer – we assume speaking from the prison cell which Herod had thrown him into – was having second thoughts about whether or not he (John) had done the right thing. I imagine that sitting in prison often conjures up such thoughts. So John wanted reassurance. He sent two friends to check on Jesus.

We do remember, don’t we, why John was in prison? He spoke his mind. He spoke truth to power. He criticized the king for his moral failure, his abuse of power, for stealing his brother’s wife. None of us would defend Herod for that, would we? But for that alone, for speaking truth, John was stuck in a cell to shut him up.

Notice how Jesus answers the disciples’ question. He could have simply said, “Yes, I’m the one.” But he doesn’t. Instead, he points out the good that is happening in the lives of people when he shows up. The lives of sick people, disabled people, grieving people, and poor people. Those are the people who set the standards for the ministry of Jesus.

Now imagine those two friends returning to John with the good news. Such news wouldn’t free John from prison or change his ultimate fate, but we have to believe it would comfort his heart to know he did the right thing.

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, you continue to challenge our sense of success, of purpose, in our lives. You continue to remind us where your priorities lie, and where ours often don’t. Bless and encourage those who need reassurance that they are doing the right thing, even in the face of opposition. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


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