Scripture Reading — Matthew 11:1-15
1After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in the towns of Galilee. 2When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples 3to ask him, "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?" 4Jesus replied, "Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosyare cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. 6Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me." 7As John's disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: "What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 8If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings' palaces. 9Then what 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: " 'I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.' 11I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. 13For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 14And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. 15He who has ears, let him hear. —
"Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?" Matthew 11:3
We all have expectations. Sometimes your new job or new vehicle isn't all it was cracked up to be. Sometimes the church doesn't meet our expectations either. I once saw a sign in a restaurant that read, "If our service doesn't meet your expectations, please lower your expectations!" But that isn't Jesus' advice.
John the Baptist had expectations about Jesus. And he began to wonder if Jesus was who he was supposed to be. We might wonder too at times, as we struggle with an illness, or a wayward child, or a financial crisis.
Jesus doesn't knock John because of his doubts, and he doesn't knock us either. He encourages us with hard words like these: "Blessed are you if you do not fall away on account of me." We are blessed if we continue to have faith despite unexpected bumps in the road.
We love to tell stories that have happy endings. But not all of them do. Life just isn't like that. The gospel is a dangerous, radical message that calls you and I out of safe places and into a broken, hurting world.
If you are hearing the gospel preached today, you need to expect that it will change your life. If you never expect much change in your life as a result of the gospel, you've grown too comfortable. Following Jesus is not always an easy journey. He never promised it would be, but he did promise to go with us.
Lord, as you send us out this week, we don't know what the journey will hold. Thank you for leading us, even through the pain and brokenness we don't understand. In your name, Amen.