The Lord of Compassion (Part 3)

By Joey Fernandez

Luke 7:18-28 A Deputation from John

  

[18] The disciples of John reported to him about all these things. [19] Summoning two of his disciples, John sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?” [20] When the men came to Him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to You, to ask, ‘Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?’” [21] At that very time He cured many people of diseases and afflictions and evil spirits; and He gave sight to many who were blind. [22] And He answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what 

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you have seen and heard: the BLIND RECEIVE SIGHT, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the POOR HAVE THE GOSPEL PREACHED TO THEM. [23] “Blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.”[24]  When the messengers of John had left, He began to speak to the crowds about John, “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? [25] “But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who are splendidly clothed and live in luxury are found in royal palaces! [26] “But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and one who is more than a prophet. [27] “This is the one about whom it is written, ‘BEHOLD, I SEND MY MESSENGER AHEAD OF YOU,WHO WILL PREPARE YOUR WAY BEFORE YOU.’[28] “I say to you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”


          Some of us just get discouraged and need a little reassurance. Everyone goes through this phase. We do not lose our faith in God. We believe in Him and His power. We know based on Scripture that He can accomplish all things; He owns all things and controls all things. We trust in Him for the great things like our salvation or the even little things like helping us find a parking space as we go to the mall. But there are times when we feel just completely helpless. What if you have been striving to live a holy life, diligently obeying and serving Him, and yet troubles fall upon you like the rain and it seems like you are on your own with no one to turn to. You may have asked some questions like: “I know that God CAN help me, but WILL He help me? I know that sometimes, God tells me to wait but how long must I wait and what must I do while waiting? I know that He listens to my prayer, but will He answer my prayer?”


          Could this be how John the Baptist might have felt when he sent his disciples to ask Jesus that controversial question in Luke 7:19: “Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?” It was indeed strange for the forerunner of Christ (Luke 1:17) to ask this question when he knew that Jesus was the Christ! Early in his ministry, when the priests and Levites asked John who he was, he confessed that he was not the Christ, nor the Prophet, but rather the one who made straight the way of the Lord. When he saw Jesus the next day, he knew and declared that Jesus was the Expected One – the Promised Deliverer whom the prophets spoke about when he said: “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”. He recognized Jesus as the Messiah because the Spirit descended upon Him and he even testified that Jesus is the Son of God (John 1:33-34). Why then did he suddenly seem to have doubts about Christ’s identity by asking this question, especially after his disciples reported to him the miraculous healing of the centurion’s servant and the raising from the dead of the widow’s son?


          Unfortunately, we do go through periods of discouragement and we just need to be reassured during those times. Filipinos are known to be overly sensitive sometimes, with egos as tender as soft-boiled eggs. Women need reassurance that they are beautiful, and men need reassurance that they are needed. Christians, despite their great faith, still need reassurance, and John the Baptist also needed it.


          John was imprisoned for declaring the truth. I know that this is not a very encouraging example of how one will be rewarded for doing the right thing, but that was the opposition he faced for living a holy life. When the Pharisees came to him to be baptized, he called them a brood of vipers. But he had to be so bold to tell the ruler of the land, Herod that he had an unlawful relationship. Death now awaited him in prison. But his living conditions prior to prison was not even that grand, having to live in the wilderness, eating only locusts and honey, with nothing to wear but camel’s hair and a belt. Who wouldn’t be discouraged when faced with these troubles for doing the right thing? To make things worse, John knew that Jesus was near, but he seemed to have no contact with Him. The Bible does not give any account of the two of them meeting except for when John baptized Jesus. Christ was there in Galilee, but He seemed to be distant. A powerful and mighty God, and yet, getting no help from Him, just when he needed it most. John might have needed reassurance and he wanted Christ Himself to give him that assurance he was longing for. Just like a child who knows his father loves him, it just feels much better if he hears it directly from his father.


          Despite the offensive question, Jesus was not offended. Instead, he gently answered John’s disciples, not directly, but in a more powerful way that would cause John to answer his own question – by quoting Scripture: “the BLIND RECEIVE SIGHT, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the POOR HAVE THE GOSPEL PREACHED TO THEM”(Isaiah 29:18; Isaiah 35:5-6). Christ invited John to check the OT prophecies regarding the Messiah and to compare those to what He was doing. He pointed John to the evidence that His words and deeds were exactly what the prophets foretold. Jesus did not have to declare it. He proved beyond a doubt that He was the Messiah. Jesus wanted to reassure John that his faith in Him as the Messiah was founded on the truths of Scripture and had nothing to do with how he was feeling at the time. He did not rebuke John. Instead, Christ extended His reassurance to hail John as the “greatest among those born of women”.


          Learn now from Christ’s gentle answer to John’s question. Are you going through a discouraging stage when doubt is beginning to cross your mind? Consider Christ’s answer and give yourself some much-needed reassurance. Immerse yourself in the sufficiency of Scripture and be comforted with the truth that the Lord of Compassion is near. (Psalm 46:1-2; Psalm 28:7; Psalm 31:19).