Sunday, December 15, 2019 – Advent 3

December 15, 2019  

Advent 3 2019

Our Savior’s La Crosse

Matthew 11:2-11


John was in prison.

John heard what the Messiah was doing. He couldn’t believe his ears.

He sent his disciples to Jesus to ask Jesus “Are you the one to come or are we to wait for another?” (Matthew 11:3).

John was the one about whom it was written ‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ (Matthew 11:10).

Jesus said of John: “among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist” (Matthew 11:11).

John was in prison.

John received the call to be a prophet before he was born, while yet in his mother’s womb. John dedicated his life to preparation, preparing the way for the Lord. John was arrested for provoking religious authorities. His vision of the ministry of the coming Messiah challenged their comfort, challenged their authority, challenged their leadership.

John was in prison.

He began to doubt.

“When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” (Matthew 11:2-3).

He was behind bars. He was in a shadowy place, maybe feeling some despair.

Can you sense the pain in his message: “Are you the one?”

 Was John questioning everything he spent his life doing? Did his life seem to him to have been futile? Did he think he wasted his time? Was he disappointed? Was he feeling betrayed?

When John’s disciples asked Jesus “Are you the one?” Jesus’s answer was swift and clear: “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them” (Matthew 11:4-5).

The blind receive sight.

The lame walk.

The lepers are cleansed.

The deaf hear.

The dead are raised.

The poor have good news brought to them.

Actually, the blind, the lame, the lepers, the deaf, the dead and the poor all received good news. They received healing. They received cleansing. They received new life.

This is what Jesus himself said he brought to the world. This is what Jesus brings to our world. Healing. Cleansing. New life.

Since the time of Jesus and before his coming, people have had their own ideas about what his coming would look like and what he would be able to do. Often what people longed for or are longing for was or is rooted in what they believe they need.

Our expectations are born out of our needs.

What happens when our needs aren’t met? Not even by Jesus?

Do we like John, ask “Are you the one?”

In his sermon for this third Sunday in Advent Martin Luther wrote:

“In order to keep your faith pure, do nothing else than stand still, enjoy its blessings, accept Christ’s works, and let him bestow his love on you….

After this, think of nothing else than to do to your neighbor as Christ has done to you, and let all your works together with all your life be applied to your neighbor. Look for the poor, sick and all kinds of needy, help them and let your life’s energy here appear, so that they may enjoy your kindness” (Sermons of Martin Luther, volume 1, p. 110-111).

Luther is telling us, rather than waiting to be healed—go and heal others.

Rather than waiting to be cleansed—go and cleanse others.

Rather than waiting and watching for new life—go and give your life’s energy to others.

Then see, see what happens in your own life and heart.

Then stand still, enjoying Christ’s blessing.

Stand still, letting Christ’s love be bestowed on you, not because of what you have done for others, but because of what Jesus’s love does for you and through you.

For, where there is Christ there is love.

Where there is love there is hope.

Where there is hope there is peace.