Reading: Luke 7: 18-35
Additional reading: Matt 11: 2-11
John was the man of the desert.
John went to the desert because he had a relationship with God.
But he knew only things that God had spoken to him.
John performed no miracles.
He healed no one.
He just preached people to repent.
Then he baptized them when they repent.
John also honored the humble and humbled the proud.
John understood that his ministry was to get people ready for the Christ.
Then, John introduced Jesus as the Messiah.
Remembering his words, many followed Jesus.
He also sent his two best disciples to go and listen to Jesus.
They walked with Jesus.
They obeyed the teachings of Jesus.
Then they learned the way of the Christ.
Other people followed Jesus.
But John has not had a chance to follow Jesus.
Because a little later, John was imprisoned.
Now being in the prison, he was very uncomfortable.
John felt so lonely there.
He was eating something that he was not used to.
But the most of all, he felt that his end was near.
So, being in prison, he thought about a lot of things.
He also wanted to hear more about Jesus.
His disciples told him what they saw.
They told the story of Jesus to John.
But John had a lot of question about what Jesus was doing.
John was not impressed.
John was expecting something more from Jesus.
John didn’t like the way Jesus was ministering.
There was so much corruption in the world.
So, he expected that Jesus would do something powerful.
He expected that Jesus would bring down fire from heaven.
He expected that Jesus would bring the whole nation to obey God.
He expected that Jesus would speak to the kings and leaders of the nation.
John was expecting that Jesus would become a king.
John expected that Jesus would free him from this prison.
John expected a lot.
But Jesus was not doing any of these.
Instead, Jesus was healing people, like a doctor.
He was taking care of each individual.
He was preaching to the poor.
Jesus was like a witch doctor or a magician.
Or Jesus was like a social worker.
John was shaking his head.
John wanted to come to Jesus and say:
“Time out! Time out!
What are you doing?
I make a straight path for you.
What are you doing?
God wants you to start a new nation.
Don’t you know?
You need to clean out the temple and the palace.
Are you also preparing the way of the Jewish Messiah like me?
Are you not the one?
Are you also a voice like me?
What are you doing anyway?”
Many people were following Jesus because of him.
Being a prophet of God, he needed to be responsible for his words.
But as for him, Jesus acted like another prophet.
He thought if Jesus was also a prophet like him, John might need to introduce someone one else to be the Messiah, the king.
John was anxious to know what Jesus was thinking about this
So, John sent two of disciples to Jesus to ask:
“Are you the one?
Are you the one who is to come?
Should we expect someone else?”
When they found Jesus, Jesus was doing the same things.
He was curing those who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind.
Then these two disciples of John asked Jesus who was busy:
“John asks us to ask you:
Are you the one?
Should we expect someone else?”
Then Jesus, understanding what was going on with John, replied to the messengers:
“This is all I can say.
Tell him what you have seen and heard.
Tell him that I am healing all kind of people.
Everyone is getting well.
And I proclaimed the good news to the poor.
Happy are those who are not disappointed because of me.”
Through Jesus, the power of God was unleashed.
People experience what God wants them to experience.
Jesus was showing what God is like.
Jesus was showing people how God thinks.
So, Jesus didn’t want to change his mission statement because of John.
As a matter of fact, Jesus couldn’t follow John’s expectation.
John and Jesus both preached about the kingdom of God.
But it turned out that Jesus preached a different kingdom of God.
The Kingdom that Jesus understood was that through him all humans would see God's salvation.
This salvation was a different kind of salvation, as for John.
Jesus was following God looking at a greater picture.
So, Jesus followed his path.
Jesus preached about God’s new promise that was given through him.
Jesus preached to the poor and healed them, because this was how the salvation of God came.
This was how Jesus red and understood from the bible.
John’s understanding was very limited.
He knew only his part.
John didn’t know exactly what the Messiah should do.
God didn’t teach John about that, because John was not the Messiah.
So, without understanding exactly how God would do this, John understood that God's salvation was political event.
But then John was able to do his job of making people to be ready to follow Jesus.
Through John, God prepared the path of Jesus.
Jesus recognized about the human limitation of John.
But he was ok with it.
Jesus was not surprised by John’s doubt.
Instead, when Jesus spoke to the crowd about John, he said something like this:
“What do you think about John?
Was he wealthy and politically powerful?
But then why did you go to see John?
Right, it is because John was a prophet!
I think John was more than a prophet.
He was the messenger who came ahead of the Messiah.
He prepared the way of the Messiah.
That means that if you follow the Messiah, you are greater than John.”
We don’t know whether John understood Jesus eventually before he died.
But he finished his race.
He did something important for the story of Jesus.
John will be remembered forever as someone who introduces Jesus.
So, Jesus had no problem honoring John.
Jesus told them John was more than a prophet, because John did his part in this salvation story.
When Jesus recognized John as a great prophet like this, those who were baptized by John were very happy.
But those who weren’t baptized by John wanted to reject Jesus as well.
They rejected John before.
Now they wanted to reject Jesus as well.
Then, to these people, Jesus said something like these:
“John the Baptist was not eating bread not drinking wine.
So, you said to John: “He has a demon.”
And I am eating and drinking.
So, you said to me, “Here is a drunken friend of tax collectors and sinners.”
But you shouldn’t define people by what they eat.
You might need to discern more wisely.
“You know what.
You are rejecting people, if they didn’t listen to you.
If they don’t listen to you, you find something to complain about them.
That is not wise way to live.
Try to light a candle to help people instead of cursing the darkness.
In order to do that, you may need to listen to God.
If you can be roughly right about God, that is good enough.
God is bigger than your mind.
Remember: God may have God’s own goal.
God has God’s own mission statement!
It seems it is different from your mission statement.
So, if you insist your own way, you may not do what God wants you to do.
Since God does not think like you, I cannot agree with you.
Reexamine your way of thinking and plan before insisting your own way.”
Here we have two people didn’t understand Jesus: John and those who reject John and Jesus.
They both couldn’t understand Jesus.
But John was able to do his part.
God was able to use John.
But the others couldn’t do their parts, because they didn’t know what God wanted from them.
They didn’t understand what God prepared for them.
We also may not understand Jesus fully.
We may only know a bit of Jesus in relation to our ministry.
So we may need to ask ourselves: What is your ministry?
In this year, our ministry is to tell the story of Jesus.
Our ministry is to share Jesus and the character of Jesus.
Our ministry is to tell people what Jesus has accomplished.
Our ministry is to live his life guided by the Holy Spirit.
Our ministry is to share Jesus together with the Holy Spirit.
Our ministry is to imagine and see the salvation of God through Jesus.
When we obey God in a little thing in life, we learn more of God.
The more we obey God, the more we understand who God is.
The more you obey what you already know, the more you learn.
Then the more we understand, the more God may speak to us.
Then we may even know how God may speak to us.
May we learn the way of Jesus in our own ministry.
May we understand the way of Jesus and live it out.
May we finish our own race before God.
We may not understand someone, if they have a different calling than us.
It is very possible that when people have different callings, they may not understand why the other is trying to do something like that.