Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"Are You The One?"

During this morning's meditation I happened onto Matthew 11:2-6, which turns out to be extremely relevant to what's going on in the world currently. As so many others, I've been agonizing over the horrendous aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami for the citizens of Japan, and for the set-back of the freedom movement in Libya for the people there. Not to mention situations which appear regularly in the local newspaper and other media, and situations in my own family. So much suffering and sorrow!

John the Baptizer, in Matthew's passage, was in a similar dire situation: imprisoned and about to be martyred. He sends his friends to Jesus to ask a point-blank question, "Are you the One, or are we to look for another?" The implication is that John was in a bit of a doubtful mode. He'd spent the whole of his short life and ministry as the one who prepared the way for this man, who apparently was his own cousin. Early on, John was convinced that Jesus was Messiah, the One who, with fire and judgment, would set things right with the corrupt Jewish religious establishment in Jerusalem. Jesus hadn't, so far, displayed that sort of dramatic action. These days, however, John wasn't so sure if Jesus really was the One. So he sends his delegation to Jesus to seek clarification.

Jesus never gives him a "Yes" or a "No". He simply advises John and the others to look around and see what was happening, what was being done among the people: the blind were seeing, the crippled and maimed were regaining their mobility, those considered unclean were being completely restored. The answer to John's question, and surely to us who often ask the same question, seems pretty obvious. Or is it?

John Indermark makes this thoughtful observation:
"We may not ask Jesus outright, 'Are you the one?' Although occasionally when things go haywire at church or in our personal lives or in the world at large, maybe we do indirectly. Maybe we imply 'Are you the one?' when the question on our lips or minds is 'Is this all there is?' Maybe we wonder 'Are you the one?' when innocents perish or relationships unravel or health deteriorates, and all we can get out of our mouths and spirits is 'What's up with this?' For if Jesus is the one, they why all of this? Should we be looking for something or someone else? 
Challenging questions, to be sure -- as challenging as life itself. God in Christ is not offended or angered by our asking them, any more than Jesus was offended or angered by John's inquiry. God in Christ responds in turn with the summons to hear and see the answer for ourselves. To hear and see, in the most marginalized of places and persons, the signs of Messiah among us: in the restoration of wholeness, the renewal of life, and the gift of hope.
Do you hear and see such things? And if so, do you trust your life to the One who does them, who then bids you come and join him in Messiah's work? God does not tell you what your answer will be. The challenge of faith is to answer for yourself.
'Are you the one?' What say you?"  (From Gospeled Lives, Upper Room Books, 2008)

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