For Sunday, December 11th, 2022
When John the Baptist heard in prison of the works of the Christ, he sent his disciples to Jesus with this question, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?”Jesus said to them in reply, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.
“As they were going off, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John, “What did you go out to the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? Then what did you go out to see? Someone dressed in fine clothing? Those who wear fine clothing are in royal palaces. Then why did you go out? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written: Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way before you. Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”
Before today’s Gospel, John the Baptist had already displayed great faith in God. Indeed, he had already preached in the wilderness, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2). He baptized with a baptism of repentance. When Jesus came to him, he said, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” (Matthew 3:14). Notice how easily John recognized that Jesus was greater than he was. Furthermore, when there was a dispute over whether or not John was the Messiah, he said, “You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him… He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:28-30). John knew he was not the Messiah but longed to know who the Messiah was.
So in this reading, he sends messengers to Jesus asking him if Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus responds in a curious way. He does not give them a clear cut answer; instead, he tells the messengers, “Go and tell John what you see and hear,” and he references Isaiah’s prophecy which we hear in this Sunday’s first reading, which says, “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, and the tongue of the dumb sing. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert.” (Isaiah 35:5-6). These verses prophesy the circumstances and signs that will accompany the coming of God’s Messiah. The verse right before them says, “Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you” (Isaiah 35:4). Jesus links his actions to Isaiah’s prophecy that God will come as the savior.
In his response to John’s messengers, Jesus appeals to his mighty works and deeds, essentially saying, “Let my actions speak louder than my words.” Jesus has already performed the signs that Isaiah said would accompany the coming of the Messiah. He has given sight to the blind (see Matthew 9:27-30), healed the lame (see John 5:8-9), cleansed lepers (see Matthew 8:3), brought the dead back to life (see John 12:1), and given the poor the hope of the Gospel (see Mark 6:12).
In the second half of today’s Gospel, Jesus asks the crowd who John the Baptist was by asking them why so many people have come to see John preaching in the desert. He answers for them that John was a prophet—in fact, the prophet preparing the way for God’s Messiah. John was indeed a great man, but he is preparing the way for someone much greater: the savior of the world.
Jesus has come. He is the Messiah. We are not to and have no need to look for another. In your prayer today, do two things. Recall the longing for the Christ that the Jews experienced 2000 years ago, and embrace the longing for the second coming of the same Christ at the conclusion of this world. Today, joyously hope for the Messiah’s second coming.
Is it time for your Exodus? Learn more here.