Look We For Another?

by Marty Breen

This meditation involving a question and answer will concern the passage found here in Matthew 11:1-6...
(Mat 11:1-6 KJV) And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding his twelve disciples, he departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities. {2} Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, {3} And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? {4} Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and show John again those things which ye do hear and see: {5} 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. {6} And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.

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 truth, etc..

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 He's
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!