Thursday 04 February 2021

Bible Book:

'Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?'  (v. 19) And he answered them, 'Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk...' (v. 22)

Luke 7:18-23 Thursday 4 February 2021

Psalm 71:17-24


Looking back at the accounts of Jesus with the benefit of 2,000 years of Christian tradition, we can forget that there was any question over Jesus’ identity. At this time though, the Jews were looking for a messianic figure (‘an anointed’) one to restore the sovereignty of the Jewish people. They were not necessarily looking for someone who was also a healer, who did miracles for the gentiles or who focused on the poor.  King Herod had put John in prison (Luke 3:20) and it was only after John was in prison, that Jesus began his ministry. John’s question as to whether Jesus is ‘the one’ is genuine. His own ministry curtailed; he was wondering if Jesus was the one for whom he had been preparing. Jesus had declared that part of his ministry was ‘release of the captives’ (Luke 4:18), and maybe John wondered if Jesus would release him from prison.

As we hear the stories of Jesus’ words and actions, John’s question is also the question we all need to ask. Is Jesus the ‘one’? There is also another important question for each of us – do we recognise God's proximity in our ordinary, everyday lives?

When Jesus preaches his sermon in Nazareth, he quotes from Isaiah 58.6 and 61:1-2. He is anointed to bring good news to the poor, recovery of sight to the blind (Luke 4:18-19). Jesus’ reply to John’s question is to point to his actions and their effect. The actions themselves do not prove anything, they are signs and an invitation to see and believe. Interestingly, ‘the poor’ are not necessarily those who are materially poor. The centurion whose slave was healed was wealthy enough to sponsor the building of the synagogue in Capernaum. (Luke 7:1-10) The poor in this context perhaps means those outside the faith fold of Judaism. Because Jesus has offered his ministry to those on the fringes and outside Israel he has provoked hostility. He is not fulfilling the stereotyped Jewish idea of the ‘one anointed’ by God. Jesus remarked that those who are open to this redefinition of the role of Messiah are the blessed ones. However, many are offended and not blessed.

To Ponder:

  • Why do you think that John the Baptist was not sure about Jesus’ identity?
  • Can you think of an example of a time when God acted in a way that upset your expectations? How did you decide it was God acting, what criteria did you use?
  • What are the different levels of meaning in the ‘blind receiving their sight', and how does it apply to you?
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