DayBreaks for 12/16/13 – The One Who Was to Come
Matthew 11:3 (NLT) “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?”
John wasn’t the only one who ever asked this question. There are many at this time of year who ask the same question. Perhaps you are one of them.
At Christmas we talk a lot about joy and peace and we sing songs about being merry, joyful and adoring of the Bethlehem Baby. It would be enough, to an alien from another planet, to make one think that only good things happen at Christmas, that all struggles are banned and that there simply is no room for non-faith. Would that it were that simple, right? At present, I know far too many who are struggling with cancer, heart issues, mysterious illnesses, suicides, violence, broken relationships and the like. It is enough, given the joyful noises we make at Christmas, to make one wonder if there’s any truth to this “I bring you tidings of great joy….” bit.
We are possessed with the idea that if we follow the Christ, our life will somehow be smoother, or at least all fit together in a way that makes good sense to us. Then we run smack into the reality that the only guarantees Jesus made to us had to do with what comes after this life. In fact, Jesus very clearly expected and said that his followers would have a harder time getting through this life than those who walked away. But we still have these expectations (perhaps more so at Christmas than any other time of the year) of a “Savior” and what he’d be like and what he’d do, and when Jesus doesn’t meet them we begin to wonder…and perhaps doubt, if he is really who we thought he was. Many are the empty church pews that used to be full of people who believed in Jesus Christ. But, at some vital point in time, he didn’t live up to their expectations and they went home and never returned. When their families still fought, they still faced frightening decisions, and couldn’t make ends meet on a budget, they began to wonder if they had made a mistake with Jesus.
Maybe that’s what happened to John. He said he had come to baptize with water, and the one following him would baptize with “fire from heaven.” So where was the fire? John couldn’t see any. So far there wasn’t even smoke. So far, the Pharisees and Sadducees were still in charge of the faith, and Rome was still in charge of the visible world. In fact, instead of bringing in the kingdom, Jesus had kept pretty quiet up north while John got himself arrested and thrown into one of Herod’s dungeons on a mountaintop down by the Dead Sea. That might make a person ask some questions. Is this how a real Messiah would behave? Would He let this happen?
I have no idea if that’s what happened to John or not. I’d like to think it’s as plausible as any other explanation. Regardless, I take some real comfort from John’s doubting. If John the Baptist, as high up as he ranked (Jesus said no man born of woman was greater than John!), still had some questions, maybe there is room for me and questions, now at Christmas or at any other time.
PRAYER: Lord, thank You for Christmas and for stories of great heroes who struggled in their lives with believe and doubt. Thank you for the encouragement that you will never ultimately disappoint those who remain true! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright 2013 by Galen C. Dalrymple.
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