Thursday 9 December – Holy Communion at St Giles
Gospel Matthew 15
2 When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent his disciples 3 to ask him, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”
4 Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 6 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”
7 As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 8 If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. 9 Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written:
“‘I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way before you.’
11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, and violent people have been raiding it. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 14 And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. 15 Whoever has ears, let them hear.
Question in Matthew 11 is about who Jesus is? It’s asked by John the Baptist. Clearly has doubts. Not what expected Messiah to be like. Not how expected him to act. So he asks: are you the One, or must we wait for another? Strange question by acknowledged forerunner.
Jesus turns it round. Asks disciples what they expected John to be like? Weak man, swayed by the winds of opposing doctrines? Rich man in fine clothes – like US TV evangelist? Someone tough and uncompromising, like OT prophet of old?
John was expecting imminent arrival of Kingdom of God on earth. In Lord’s Prayer, we also pray for coming of Kingdom. As Martin Luther said - Kingdom will come, whether we pray for it or not. That petition in Lord’s Prayer is that Kingdom will come – for us.
Message sent back to John through his disciples was that John fulfilled OT prophecy – what he said, way he looked, how he acted. But so did Jesus. Invited John’s disciples to report what they saw: blind see, lame walk, sick healed, dead raised, good news proclaimed to poor. All these things prophets predicted of Messiah.
Continue through Advent – we also ask ourselves, what is this Messiah to us? Those who see the way we act, way we look, what we say – can we also tell them, having seen all this, does this point towards the coming Messiah? Are we too his forerunners? Are we preparing the way of the Lord?
The blessings of Advent are here for those who are not scandalised by the message of Jesus. Who do not take offence at him. Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear. Amen