This Sunday we’ll be progressing forward in our examination of the Gospel of Luke – we’ll be reading ch 7:18-35 – be sure to read it over and use your imagination to step into the sandals of the characters.
I imagine the dank, dark cell; hewn from rock under Herod’s desert palace. John the Baptizer has been cold and hungry, but he hasn’t stopped praying and trusting that Jesus will reveal who he is and come deliver him from this miserable place. When two of his disciples show up and call to him through the small hole that served as a window, John askes for news before receiving the bread they brought him.
They communicate to him all the stories they have heard about Jesus’ activity. Hesitantly, they share the latest thing they’d learned. Jesus had healed the servant a Roman centurion, one under Herod’s command.
John unconsciously takes a step back, starring at the messengers in disbelief. His mind shuffles through the memories of the cruel treatment he received at the hands of soldiers under Herod’s orders. Without realizing it, he rubs the scabbed over wounds on his head.
“But….why?” A tear begins tracing a line through the dust on his cheek. “What is he doing?” he says, his voice trailing off.
“Send a message to him…a question.”
That’s the dramatic backstory we need to have in view as we read the passage this week.
As a human being living on earth, you certainly have experienced disappointment at some point. Have you ever experienced disappointment in God, with how God is handling things here on earth? The people of Jesus’ day had high expectations for a messiah who would come and raise a supernaturally empowered army to overthrow their evil oppressors and bring salvation to Israel. When John asks if Jesus is really the Messiah, he’s wanting to know where the army is.
What do we learn about God’s activity from Jesus’ response? What is the focus of Jesus’ activity? What should we be looking for when trying to discern Christ’s activity today?
Even though Herod held John in prison, Jesus elevated him in his commendation, indicating his superiority over the puppet king who held him prisoner. But then he indicated that those who come after John…after Messiah has accomplished his work, would all be greater than John. Read Joel 2:28-29 and Acts 2:1-5 to gain some insight on that. How might this help us understand our place and purpose in God’s kingdom?
We’ll have a lot of interesting things to chew on this Sunday – I hope you can join us as we get into God’s word together!