From his prison cell, John the Baptist sent emissaries to Jesus with an interesting question. It’s recorded in Matthew 11.
“And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples and said to Him, ‘Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?’”
It seems to me that John’s question, put simply, is, “I thought that you were the Messiah, but things haven’t developed the way I thought they would and so I need some clarification. Are you the One?”
Consider who is asking this question. It’s the very one who recognized himself as being the “voice crying in the wilderness” (John 1:22-23), the forerunner to the Messiah. This same John was acknowledged by the angel, Gabriel, as being that one who would come in “the spirit and power of Elijah” (Luke 1:16-17), heralding the coming of the Messiah. And it is this same John who himself says of Jesus:
“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, “After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.” I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water…. And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.’”
While there was no ambiguity in his initial statements, John apparently wavered in that understanding and needed to know, one more time, “Are you the One?” John’s uncertainty about Christ is interesting to consider but is not the focus of today’s devotion. Actually, it’s Christ’s responses to John’s question that we wish to emphasize. Notice how He responds to John’s messengers:
“Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see 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. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.’”
His response, obviously intended to convince John that He was the One, was not some elongated treatise on Scripture. It wasn’t the newest, most controversial teaching. It wasn’t the news that more people were learning Hebrew or more were embracing the latest trend moving through the Church. It wasn’t even that people were growing in their knowledge of Scripture. The message to convince John that Jesus was the One was that people’s lives were being changed, for the better.
Don’t get me wrong, we need to learn and we need to share what we learn. We need to walk out these things that we learn and grow in our understanding of Scripture. However, we need to keep this in mind: the world is not going to be impressed with how much Bible I know or how eloquent I may be in expressing what I know, necessarily. People will be impressed when their lives are touched and changed by the power of God.
So then, Christ’s response to John was, “People’s lives are being changed, and that’s how you know that I am the One.” So, when the world looks upon us and examines our lives, would they know that Jesus is the One? When we come in contact with people, are their lives touched and affected by the Spirit of God that dwells within us? That’s how they will know that the Messiah has, indeed, come.