Lectionary Reflection: Matthew 11: 2-11: Watch in Hope

Question:  Are you the one?

Answer: Judge a person by their actions, not simply by their words.

This alone is worthy of pages and pages.  Setting politics aside and just looking at the church, do we choose our church leaders based on their actions?  Not that anyone is perfect, but do we look for people who show they are doing God’s work and will and are on God’s side?  OR do we select those with the money, the social and political clout, or the right sorts of words?

Then again, I could use this passage alone to show the pen-ultimate contrast between Christianity and Islam.  Jesus did miracles, brought life and prayed for those who turned their backs on God.  Mohammed did no miracles and brought only war and death in the ultimate expression of my way or the highway.  I say, I could talk about that, but I won’t.  Why?  Because I like my head.

So instead, let us look at what John’s disciples actually saw & heard.

The blind receive sight, the lame walk, leprosy is cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised and Good News is preached to the poor.

This is also worthy of pages and pages.  I could talk for hours about us, the followers of Jesus, and how we are continuing his wonderful work.  The whole course of modern medicine finds its roots in the healing work of Jesus from the development of hospitals to the drive for cures – however hard it may be to see in this generation.  And while we might not have literally raised anyone from the dead, we have preached the good news and brought people through the waters of baptism which we understand to be a movement from death to life.

Then again I could talk about the continuing move of the Holy Spirit in revivals, healings, miracles throughout Latin America, Africa and Asia.  God has not stopped doing these things and the people touched in these places cry when it is time to cry and rejoice with their whole hearts when it is time to rejoice.  We are not seeing this in America because the culture in this nation has turned religion into a private matter, not to be discussed.  We sit in the pew on Sunday morning with our serious (reserved and dour) faces and refuse to be moved.  It is like the deacon who always sat in the front row with a fire extinguisher handy just in case the fires of revival should break out…

But here, instead of spending all my time on these great things, let me talk specifically about Jesus’ last comment on himself  He said blessed are those who don’t fall away from God because of him. 

Gee, I don’t know.  It seems to me that we have done everything in our power in this nation to remove God and specifically Jesus from public altogether.  With apologies to the President, our national motto is not E Pluribus Unum.  It is In God we Trust.  Somehow, Washington cannot even bring itself to say the word “God,” much less have we made room for God in our public dialogue.  And again, with apologies to the President, the words “Under God” are still in the pledge – for now.

You see, there are people, like it or not, who are doing everything in their power to get people – to get you and me to turn away from Jesus.  Christianity (in general) has been popularly accused of being the reason for every ill ever visited on the human race.  In many quarters, the faith is simply not mentioned, but in more and more places and areas Christianity is attacked because it supposedly instigates the most heinous and inhuman crimes, and those who preach are all called money grubbing charlatans and those who believe are ridiculed and called stupid fools who cling to their Bibles…

Let me ask, for which work are we being condemned?  Helping the blind receive sight, helping the lame walk, curing diseases, helping the deaf hear, raising those who are dead in poverty and hopelessness or preaching Good News to the poor?  Think about it.

To avoid going on all day, let me simply sketch the final thoughts here concerning the Baptist.

Question:  What was John?

A reed in wind? = a moderate, a centrist, a wishy-washy poll reader?  One blown about every which way by whatever breeze happens to blow in the moment?  NO

One in fine clothes? = a slick salesman, a politician, a celebrity?  Some telemarketer trying to get you to buy what you don’t want, or worse, some con man?  NO

Answer:   John was a Prophet, which is to say a true believer, and not just any prophet, but one actually told about by other prophets in the Scriptures themselves… YET:  Even the least in the Kingdom to come is greater than John.  Think about that.  What a great hope we have in Jesus!  Thy Kingdom come…  Even now, Lord, come.

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