Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
Matthew 11:2-6 (English Standard Version)
Now that the Christmas season is a wrap with Three Kings Day tomorrow, it’s time for us to get to the nitty-gritty. Jesus the Christ was born, had his childhood, and has grown up into an adult when he commenced his ministry. It’s during Jesus’ ministry we find tonight’s text above.
In tonight’s text, we find John the Baptist in prison. If you recall, John was Jesus’ second cousin and ministerial forerunner that baptized Jesus in the Jordan River. However, as Jesus was doing his ministry, John the Baptist was arrested by Herod the for criticizing Herod’s taking his brother’s wife, Herodias, as his own. It was during his imprisonment John heard reports about the works Jesus was doing and began to wonder if Jesus was in fact God’s Christ; or if there was to be another. On the other hand, Jesus sent a very interesting reply: healing the sick, raising the dead, and the poor getting the good news.
There are many in the world today who look upon those who follow the Christ in a similar vein. With all that’s happening in our age, people look at us in the Boardinghouse of Faith and ask are we the ones that will bring change into the world? Or should the world look for others? I ask this question tonight because lots of times I’ve seen people who call themselves followers of the Christ very silent at times. I seen Black megachurch preachers such as T.D. Jakes and Creflo Dollar noticeably silent regarding the recent police brutality events in Ferguson, MO and Staten Island, NY. How many Christians for years kept out of the climate change discourse, and have said nothing about our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And this is not recent: this has happened time and again with antisemitism, slavery, Civil Rights, women’s rights, GLTBQ rights, our Middle East policies, and nuclear weapons. Save for the brave souls like the Quakers, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Oscar Romero, and a minority of others; the Church has been quiet.
Are we going to finally get down to the nitty-gritty and start healing the sick: sick souls, sick minds, sick politics, and a sick environment? Are we finally going to raise the dead: dead dreams, dead voices crying for justice, emotionally and spiritually dead? And what about preaching the good news to the poor: not just the economically poor; but the poor in spirit, the poor in hope, the poor in power? Will the world look at us in the Church and say that we are the ones to come?
Or will the world have to look for another? Sad to say, sometimes the world had to look for another because we weren’t there for the world. We don’t have the luxury of being passed as the world looks for another to address its issues. If we keep staying on the sidelines; not addressing our world’s needs, we may soon find ourselves on the wrong side of history. One day, the Church itself may find itself irrelevant and an anachronism. And unlike Jesus above, we’ll have nothing to show.
Tonight’s question: “Are you the one?” Yes, are we the one? We better answer “yes” and get to work. We cannot afford to answer otherwise.