[Scroll to bottom to listen…]

Sermon by Rev. Mark Covington, Pastor
First United Methodist Church
Quitman, Mississippi
March 25, 2012
(Fifth Sunday in Lent)

Topic: “Are You The One?”

Scripture Reading: Luke 7:18-19 (NRS Version)

18. The disciples of John reported all these things to him. So John summoned two of his disciples and sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” When the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?”
19. Jesus had just then cured many people of diseases, plagues, and evil spirits, and had given sight to many who were blind. And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”

We continue both our series on “Questions in the Bible and our journey through Lent to Easter. These next two weeks will particularly lead us to the Cross and beyond.

This week we look at a question asked by John the Baptist. Next week we are going to look at the question, “Why are you doing this?” Then Easter Sunday I am going to try and bring it all together.

Jesus’ cousin John is in prison. He has been put there because he called into question the adulterous affair King Herod had with his brothers’ wife. Now he finds himself confined in a small cell rather than wondering the countryside. The days of locust and honey are over. If he is lucky he gets to see a little sky and maybe some sunlight.

One day some of his disciples came to see him and he sends them on a mission to get the answer to a question. “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?”

That seems like a plausible question. But from John? The JOHN THE BAPTIST! The JOHN that jumped in his mothers womb when Mary approached? The JOHN that had made ready the way for the Christ? The JOHN that had been called upon to Baptize the Christ, the son of the living God? The JOHN that had seen a dove come from heaven and light on Jesus and then he heard the words, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”

THAT JOHN is asking THIS question, “Are you the one?”

Why would John ask such a question as this? There are several likely scenarios.

First, he may have asked it to reassure his disciples that Jesus is indeed the one. We are told that his disciples came to him and reported “these things” to him. They reported what they had seen and heard from Jesus. Now what we don’t know is exactly what they reported. It could have been first-hand knowledge but it could also be mixed with things that they had just heard and not witnessed. If this was the case then there is no telling what they are reporting and John wants to let them know firsthand that Jesus is the one.

A second possible scenario why John would ask this question is that Jesus did not fit the mold of what the Messiah was going to be like and John just needed to make sure before he was put to death. They were expecting a warrior, they got a meek humble man. They were expecting a King but they got a servant. They were expecting someone to rise up against the leaders of Rome, they got someone who rose up against the leaders his own people. It may have been that when Jesus turned out to be nothing like what everyone expected the messiah to be then there was a nagging question in the back of Johns mind concerning whether Jesus was the one.

Another possible scenario that would answer the question is that John was having doubts. As unlikely as you may think this is, I think it may be closer to the truth than the first scenario.

I sat in a waiting room to an Intensive Care unit with a mother and father whose only son had been airlifted after an automobile accident. It was the same waiting room where we had sat when the older son had died in an automobile accident. They asked, “How can God let this happen?”

I stood in an apartment with a father as he told me there is no way that his only daughter committed suicide on that couch. He looked at me and asked, “How can God let this happen?”

That may be the sentiment behind the question. John, free spirited John, locusts and honey, camelhair clothes, locked up in a tiny cell. It may be that in a moment of weakness and depression, a moment of waiting for his own death, that he wants the assurance that Jesus is indeed the one. So he sends his disciples to get him the assurance he needs.

Jesus does not give them a yes or no answer but tells them to “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”

So Jesus answers the question, “Are you the one , or should we wait on another? by telling them just to report back what they see and hear.

Was Jesus the one or are we still waiting for the Messiah? That is what we are asking when we ask “How can God let this or that happen” or “Where was God when this or that happened” or “Why did God let this or that happen.”

Isn’t that what we are saying when we give Jesus, not the best that we have but the remnants. When we give him our time, our talents, our gifts and our service, if we don’t have something we want to or “need” to do.

Jesus did tell a parable about that. It is found in Luke 14:16-24. A man gives a great dinner and invites a lot of people. When the time for the party comes, servants are sent out to tell those who had been invited that it is time, and one by one they make their excuses.

“I have bought a piece of land, and I must go out and see it; please accept my regrets.”
“I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please accept my regrets.”
“I have just been married, and therefore I cannot come.”

It is what we ask when we allow other things to come before our relationship with the one who came to earth for us and went to the cross for us. We ask it when we refuse to take responsibility for the Body of Christ or leave that responsibility to someone else. It is what we ask when we see the Samaritan laying in the ditch and cross over to the other side of the road so we don’t have to see the unpleasantness of life. We ask it when we profess that he is the one but don’t act like he is the one.

I am here this morning, as a servant of God, and I ask: “Do you believe he is the one that has come, or are you waiting on another?

If you believe that Jesus is the one that has come; if you believe that the one called Jesus is the Messiah, the Savior, the Christ, the son of the living God; if you believe that he is the one and that there is no other to wait on,

Then, ACT LIKE IT.

When you see him hungry, feed him; when you see him thirsty, give him something to drink; when you see him naked, clothe him; or sick or in prison, visit him. For just as you have done it to the least in his kingdom, you have done it for him, the ONE who has come.

Let us pray:

Father of light, in You is found no shadow of change but only the fullness of life and limitless truth. Open our hearts to the voice of Your Word and free us from the original darkness that shadows our vision. Restore our sight that we may look upon Your Son who calls us to repentance and a change of heart, for he lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

You have heard our prayer for others. You have heard our prayer for ourselves. Come to us, your people, and touch us with a mighty hand.
Amen.

Play

Leave a Reply