Questions and Expectations
Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.
- Matthew 11:4-5
For the last several days we’ve explored the edges of John’s great question to Jesus: “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” Today we’ll look at Jesus’ great response.
The first thing to notice is that Jesus doesn’t answer the “Yes or No” question with a “yes” or a “no.” Instead, Jesus points to the evidence and encourages John to make up his own mind. Jesus highlights a litany of beautiful, kingdom of God activities that are happening around him. He gives the case. But he doesn’t beat John over the head with it.
Jesus encouraged John’s disciples to go back to John with evidence to which John didn’t have first-hand access. John had hoped that Jesus would work miracles like these, but he was in prison and isolated from a direct connection with Jesus’ activity in the field. When John’s disciples returned with stories of Jesus’ marvelous works, they would have a much more meaningful gift to give John than a mere “yes” or “no” answer to his query.
Finally, Jesus’ response to John probes a bit at John’s expectations. Look at all the good Jesus is doing. What is John hoping he would do that Jesus hasn’t done yet? We can imagine a number of things: overthrow the Romans, reform the temple, rescue your cousin from prison!
John’s unquestioned expectations for the mission priorities of a Messiah could be fueling his question to Jesus. And if Jesus answered the question but not the expectations underlying it, John’s emotional turmoil might continue.
When have you answered someone’s question about God or faith and then discovered that there was more beneath the question than you realized? What did you do in that circumstance? What did you learn?