DEC. 16. ADVENT WK. 3. (B) WED. LK. 7. 19-23
John, summoning two of his disciples, sent them to the Lord to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or must we wait for someone else?’ When the men reached Jesus they said, ‘John the Baptist has sent us to you, to ask, “Are you the one who is to come or have we to wait for someone else?”’ It was just then that he cured many people of diseases and afflictions and of evil spirits, and gave the gift of sight to many who were blind. Then he gave the messengers their answer, ‘Go back and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind see again, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, the Good News is proclaimed to the poor and happy is the man who does not lose faith in me.’
Clearly, John the Baptist did not need to be informed if Jesus was “the one who is to come” as he had proclaimed that very fact years earlier at Christ’s Baptism, when he referred to Christ as “The Lamb of God”; - which would even seem to indicate he was also aware of the approaching Passion and Death.
So why did he send his disciples to Jesus to ask that very question?
I suspect it was in order to educate John’s disciples, and to begin the process of having them become “disciples of Jesus” as John was probably aware, not only that his job was finished, but that as a consequence of that fact, his life on earth was fast drawing to its end.
John wanted his disciples to be ready to become followers of Jesus, and what better way to do this than to send them to him and have them ask the most fundamental of questions: “Are you the one who is to come?” - and to receive the reply from Jesus himself.
The scripture goes on to point out that on their arrival: “It was just then that Jesus cured many people of diseases and afflictions and of evil spirits and gave the gift of sight to many who were blind”, which in itself would have answered the question they were sent to ask; - but that was not the end of their education, as Jesus went on to answer their question!
Then he gave the messengers their answer, ‘Go back and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind see again, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, the Good News is proclaimed to the poor and happy is the man who does not lose faith in me.’
On observing Christ’s miracles, and receiving this reply, the disciples would have been more than satisfied that Jesus was the one who had been sent by God, and they would have realised they had found the Messiah; - the one whom John had been sent to proclaim!
“And happy is the man who does not lose faith in me!” Is this not also the message of Advent?
“Happy is the person who places his Faith in Jesus, and who learns from Him?” And there is much to learn, starting with the Humility of Christ in the stable in Bethlehem, and almost immediately the embracing of trials and difficulties with having to escape from the hatred of Herod, and the resulting slaughter of the innocents, and then the eventual death on Calvary?
John’s disciples were sent to John to be educated by Jesus Christ, the Son of God; - but the lessons he teaches about the new “Kingdom” are very different from what they would have expected; - which is why Christ stresses the importance, for us, of “Not Losing Faith in Him!”