Tuesday, October 21, 2008

John the Baptist

I’ve heard people say when they read the Bible, they often see something new in a passage they have already read a number of times. That happens to me, too. And sometimes it happens in a group—in this case, in the Disciple Bible Study I go to every week. We are studying John the Baptist, who was sent by God as a witness to the coming of Christ.

Last week, we read this passage, found in Luke 7:18-23:

John's followers told John everything that was being said about Jesus. So he sent two of them to ask the Lord, "Are you the one we should be looking for? Or must we wait for someone else?"

When these messengers came to Jesus, they said, "John the Baptist sent us to ask, `Are you the one we should be looking for? Or are we supposed to wait for someone else?' "

At that time Jesus was healing many people who were sick or in pain or were troubled by evil spirits, and he was giving sight to a lot of blind people. Jesus said to the messengers sent by John, "Go and tell John what you have seen and heard. Blind people are now able to see, and the lame can walk. People who have leprosy are being healed, and the deaf can now hear. The dead are raised to life, and the poor are hearing the good news. God will bless everyone who doesn't reject me because of what I do."

Notes in my NIV Life Application Study Bible say John was confused because he had been getting reports about the activities of Jesus that were “unexpected and incomplete.” I had always interpreted it this way. John was worried or was somehow having doubts.

But last Thursday night, our group discussion led to a new understanding. John sent some of his followers to ask questions of Jesus—to find out if he was the long-expected one. Why did he send two of his people? If he was truly worried, why wouldn’t he have gone himself to talk to Jesus?

John, we believe, never had doubts; he had known all his life. He knew that if he sent his followers into the presence of Jesus, they, too, would have this personal knowledge. And they would follow the path John had shown them, to dedicate themselves to Jesus—not to John.

John was the messenger, sent to show the way. And that’s what he was doing.

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