Look We For Another?
by Marty Breen
I'm sure we all get the context, but let's review it. John the Baptist is in prison for speaking out against Herod's incestuous relationship with his own brother's wife. Later on, the Scriptures bear record that John will eventually be beheaded by Herod-he'll die a martyr's death! In prison, John hears of the works of Christ and sends two of his disciples to raise this very pertinent question to Jesus-"Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?" This question, along with Jesus' answer, will be the subject of this meditation.
II) John's Question: Let's first consider his question-"Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?"
Isn't this the same John the Baptist that baptized Jesus in the Jordan, that witnessed
the Spirit descend as a dove, that heard the voice of the Father from Heaven say
"This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."? I mean, he met Christ in
the flesh and had experienced the unmistakable presence of the Trinity (Father, Son, and
Holy Ghost)! Yet now he's in prison, and he's doubting now. After all, surely Jesus Christ
could free him from prison if He's really Who He says he is! Certainly, He's performing
many other great works-healing the sick, feeding the hungry-why can't He free John from
prison? Obviously, we cannot delve into the mind of John the Baptist to know for certain
what he's thinking-we're simply left with his question "Do we look for another?"
Let's make application to our own lives-do we find ourselves asking this question
inwardly even if we'd never dare utter it to fellow brethren? One thing we do note
concerning John the Baptist-he was definitely "shut up" to his circumstances (he
was in prison, and there was no way he'd free himself). All of us, I'm sure, are
"shut up" in some circumstances that we'd prefer to be freed from. It could be
financial distress, it could be a physical infirmity of some kind, but whatever it is we
can't escape it-its an ongoing, continuous trial. One thing all believers in Christ share
in is that we're all imprisoned in our bodies of death, these fleshly bodies that still
lust after sin. Thus, there's a constant "tug of war" going on within us as our
flesh goes one way while the Spirit goes another! Also, we're all stuck in a world that is
hostile to God, that is opposed to Jesus Christ!
Because of the struggles that remain (both outward and inward), maybe we get to the
point that John did-Is there really anything to Christianity? I mean, I still sin, I get
sick, I have relationship problems. I thought that after coming to Christ my life would
get better, but I still find many of the same old problems! Do we look for another?
II) Jesus' Answer: Jesus' response to John (vs. 4-6) contains three elements that I'd like to comment on...
A) "Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see:"
One truth that comes out of this is that Christ's people most often need to be
"stirred up in remembrance" of the simple Gospel message-Christ crucified! We
aren't so much in need of "new" information concerning eschatology or bizarre
"Holy Ghost" experiences like falling backwards or holy laughter or speaking in
tongues as we are of being constantly reminded of the Gospel message! Since we just
entered another New Year, we generally anticipate new things and hope for a different year
than we just had! Yet, this year will still bring repetition from last year-we'll still
struggle with sin, we'll still have some problems unresolved from last year, and we'll
still need to hear again Jesus Christ and Him crucified! We'll never get to a point where
we no longer need the Gospel of grace for sinners.
B) "The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them."
This verse gives us the crux of Jesus' Mission-the poor have, not "give me 10% and
I'll give you 100", not money and riches given to them, but have the Gospel PREACHED
to them! Ultimately, the Lord Jesus' office was not a miracle worker, not a charity, but
that as a Teacher and Preacher (vs. 1). The earthly miracles He performed served a twofold
purpose-they proved He is Who He said He is (God with us), and they were teaching
illustrations that pointed to His saving Work of redeeming lost sinners. All of these
other categories (blind-seeing, lame-walking, deaf-hearing, and the dead being raised up)
are synonyms of the same truth-spiritually poor sinners having the Gospel preached to
them, spiritual lepers being cleansed of their sin, spiritually blind being able to see
C) "And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me."
Lastly, Jesus leaves us with an admonition not to be offended in Him. This is really
the temptation that John must have faced-confusing the purpose of Christ's Mission! It
wasn't about physical freedom from prison, its about spiritual emancipation from Satan's
kingdom into the Glorious Kingdom of God's Dear Son! John needed to be reminded of this,
and so do we. John remained in prison because it pleased God to do so! So, too, with
us-God is pleased for the time to leave us in some of our unpleasant circumstances, but
still doing His Work of preaching the Gospel to the poor via His people.
Because God delays, there is always the snare to "look for another Christ"
because the REAL Christ won't meet our expectations! People today want a Christ to provide
wealth, to provide health, to grant supernatural
experiences like tongues and such, but they'll have to look for another to get those
things-and they do! They aren't following the REAL Jesus, because they're offended in a
Saviour that won't heal an illness or relieve
poverty or provide supernatural experiences that gratify the flesh! This simple message of
Christ crucified isn't enough for them. For Christ's sheep, however, while we may waver
and doubt at times we ultimately find our
joy and comfort in that simple message. Christ crucified!