Thought for Sunday

Even though Jesus has been doing precisely what he announced during his first sermon in Nazareth (Luke 4)- healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, releasing the captive, and bringing good news - questions about who he is and what he is doing continue to nag at his heels. Today’s questioners are the disciples of John the Baptist who have been watching him, but instead of believing in him they run back to John wondering if Jesus is the one they have been waiting for. John’s whole purpose was to point people away from himself and toward Jesus, but in their questioning, John’s disciples have the whole thing backward. In some way, they think Jesus should be carrying on the ministry of John, but from the very start, Jesus has been about something greater. Where John expects judgment, Jesus has been giving mercy. Where John expected fire and brimstone, Jesus has been opening the kingdom of God. It’s no wonder that nobody can tell who he is, for Jesus doesn’t conform to anyone’s hopes and expectations. He doesn’t cooperate with the goals of priests, princes, Pharisees, or the disciples of John the Baptism to change the world for the better. But that is exactly the point. Jesus has come to bring in a new creation, one given to the unrighteous, the sinners, and the unworthy, which means that he hasn’t come to make the world a better place, but rather to bring the world to an end to make the new kingdom. That is, to give the favor of God to all who will hear. Too bad everyone is too busy taunting one another and trying to carry out their own hopes to hear the gracious Word of God in Jesus Christ.