RCL Year A Advent 3
Isaiah 35:1-10, Psalm 146:4-9, James 5:7-10, Saint Matthew 11:2-11
In the Gospel today, John the Baptist is in prison, and he sends his disciples to Jesus to ask him if he is the one who is to come. The question gives Jesus the opportunity to comment on his own ministry.
Jesus tells John’s disciples that the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them.
The point that Jesus is making is that his ministry differs from some prophecies. The prophet Malachi had foretold that the one who is to come would bring with him fiery judgment. This John had preached. But Jesus brings healing, the reversal of blindness, lameness, leprosy, deafness, and death, and he brings good news to the poor—those whose entire lives contained no good news. Jesus replies that his ministry more closely follows the prophecies of Isaiah: “then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy…the spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners.”
So, Jesus’ ministry redirects John’s expectations from the prophecy of Malachi to the prophecy of Isaiah, and, secondly, Jesus supplies the genuine needs of the people who look for God. I think that’s very good news. The Lord’s ministry isn’t just the correction of what’s wrong. He brings with him what the people really need. Because Jesus brings not fiery judgment, John may have his doubts about Jesus.
But what Jesus says to John’s disciples overturns any doubts the people may have. Jesus brings what people really need.
What you really need and what I really need may be scarier that fiery judgment. When we look for a baby who is our Savior and Judge, we recognize that he being who he is requires us to change. We can’t just continue to be who we are or who we want to be. We have to take him as our pattern; we have to take with his redeeming and saving love a dose of what he wants us to be.
What John discovers is that to be all in for Jesus is to be all in for the possibility that Jesus wants for us something we may not want for ourselves. That is the risk we take when we seek to be Christ’s own forever. When we adore him in his crib, when we adore him on the cross, when we meet him in his resurrection, we should look also to what he asks us to do and to be. It may be different from what we expect as John found out. To be all in for Jesus brings us to a point of no return, the point where we are willing to give ourselves up for his glory. That glory shines from the crib and from the cross, and when it strikes us our blindness leaves us, and we are whole.
 Saint Matthew 11:4-5.
 Malachi 3:1-3.
 Saint Matthew 3:2.
 Isaiah 35:5-6 and 61:1.