Summary: Jesus Is The One! 1) Look at his works; 2) Listen to his words
He has a decent job. He’s kind to my cat. He enjoys my parents’ company. He even knows the difference between baking powder and baking soda. Is he the one?
She’s intelligent. She makes me laugh. She likes to go camping. She even buys her clothes at Value Village. Is she the one?
Boy am I glad I’m done with that phase of my life - you know, the phase during which you had to figure out who was “the one” to spend the rest of your life with in marriage. It seems to me that cultures that practice arranged marriages have a good thing going. Single people in those cultures don’t have to waste time and money on blind dates. Nor do they have to rehearse awkward pickup lines. They just have to sit back and relax while their parents find them “the one” they are to marry.
John the Baptist too was eagerly looking for “the one.” No, he wasn’t looking for Mrs. Baptist. He was looking for the one “who was to come” - the promised Messiah who would save the world from sin and punish God’s enemies. At one time John had been so certain he had found “the one” that he boldly punched the air with forefinger extended towards a carpenter from Nazareth and boomed: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) But months later John wasn’t so sure anymore that Jesus was “the one.” Hadn’t John’s God-given message about the Messiah been, “His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire”? (Matthew 3:12) If Jesus was “the one,” where were the fireworks of judgment? Why did the wicked like King Herod continue to prosper while the righteous like John himself languished behind bars? A prophet was supposed to be in a pulpit not a prison!
As we move closer to hearing the Christmas story again this year we too may share the same doubts John the Baptist had. Is Jesus really “the one”? Is he really the Son of God who became man to win our salvation? Does he really care about our lowly circumstances? Today we’ll see that Jesus is indeed “the one.” We’ll be assured of this by looking at his works and listening to his words.
It shouldn’t surprise us that even a strong believer like John the Baptist would have doubts about Jesus. I can’t think of a single character in the Bible (besides Jesus) who never questioned God’s timing or his way of doing things. At one time the prophet Elijah too wondered why God didn’t deal more forcefully with the wicked of his day: King Ahab and his wife Jezebel. So if you have some doubts about Jesus, you’re not alone. But now how should you handle those doubts? John didn’t ask others what they thought about Jesus. Instead he went back to Jesus himself for clarification and strengthening. Likewise don’t look for answers to your doubts about Jesus on Wikipedia. Go to Jesus himself.
Although John was not able to go to Jesus since he had been put in prison for pointing out King Herod’s sins, he did send two of his disciples. When the disciples relayed John’s doubts, Jesus didn’t gravely shake his head and “tut-tut” as if John was a big disappointment. On the contrary. He defended John before the crowd and asked them: “What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind?...[No.] A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written: ”‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’…he is the Elijah who was to come” (Matthew 11:7, 9, 10, 14b).
According to Jesus, John was greater than all the Old Testament prophets. While they had announced Jesus’ coming like a ring master announcing the next boxing card, John actually prepared the way for Jesus like a trainer clearing the way for the prize fighter as he makes his way into the ring. If even someone so close to the Messiah could have doubts and not be scolded by him, we should not be shy about taking our doubts to Jesus.
And what was the answer Jesus gave to John’s question? Jesus said: “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. 6 Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me” (Matthew 11:4-6). Jesus replied in the words of our Old Testament Lesson from Isaiah 35 that foretold the things the Messiah would do when he came. In fact shortly before the events of our text, Jesus had raised to life the widow’s dead son in the town of Nain proving that he indeed was the promised Messiah.