Luke 7:18-23 (CEV)
18-19 John’s followers told John everything that was being said about Jesus. So he sent two of them to ask the Lord, “Are you the one we should be looking for? Or must we wait for someone else?”
20 When these messengers came to Jesus, they said, “John the Baptist sent us to ask, ‘Are you the one we should be looking for? Or are we supposed to wait for someone else?’”
21 At that time Jesus was healing many people who were sick or in pain or were troubled by evil spirits, and he was giving sight to a lot of blind people. 22 Jesus said to the messengers sent by John, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard. Blind people are now able to see, and the lame can walk. People who have leprosy are being healed, and the deaf can now hear. The dead are raised to life, and the poor are hearing the good news. 23 God will bless everyone who doesn’t reject me because of what I do.”
Grace For Doubt
Yesterday I told you about holding my dead son. And one of the things that happens when you lose someone you love, or when you experience trauma or tragedy or just a really long lonely hard spell is that it’s easy to start to doubt. It’s normal to need to “check with God” to see if you really understood what was going on or not.
In the weeks and months after my son’s death I became incredibly disillusioned with church, with faith the way that I had been taught it. My pain made me hypersensitive to hypocrisy, shallow conversations and arrogant assertions from the front. I couldn’t accept the happy-clappy feel-good songs – couldn’t join in singing them, because they had nothing to do with my present reality – couldn’t meet God in them, because I wasn’t there to do any meeting.
I know too many people who have experienced deep hurt and disappointment to think that I’m the only one to go through this. This is how we work as humans. The answers in front of us are great until life unravels, and then we have to carefully sift through the debris to figure out what we can pick up and use again and what has become meaningless in the face of the newest disaster.
And I think this is what was happening to John. Herod’s thrown him in prison. He’s still got some disciples, but he’s locked up, out of the way. In a world where prisoners only get fed if friends show up, a world where you have the potential to be executed at any moment, John’s position is making him question whether he ever had any of it right in the first place.
So he does what the best of us do – he asks Jesus.
In this case, he sends his disciples to find out the answer to the question he had proclaimed in the desert: is Jesus the Messiah, the holy one that all of Israel has been waiting for?
Is it true, not just on the days when everything is awesome, but is this true enough for the days that feel like we’re in the dungeon of despair?
And I love Jesus’ response.
“Go and tell John what you have seen and heard. Blind people are now able to see, and the lame can walk. People who have leprosy are being healed, and the deaf can now hear. The dead are raised to life, and the poor are hearing the good news. 23 God will bless everyone who doesn’t reject me because of what I do.”
It’s no esoteric, hard-to-grasp answer Jesus gives. It’s flesh and blood tangible. It’s seen-it-so-believe-it real. The proof is in the actions that Jesus is at the centre of right now: blind who can see, lame who can walk, people healed and hearing and raised to life.
Jesus doesn’t respond with a list of verses, a list of principles, a list of things that John should do so that God will love him again. Jesus doesn’t blame John for his predicament, chastise him for his doubt or make a mockery of him to those around him.
Jesus simply responds to John’s doubts with the greatest degree of grace imaginable.
To John’s depths of despair, Jesus sends hope.
- Where are you at today in terms of doubt?
- If you are experiencing doubt today, what message of hope is there in Jesus’ words for you right now?
- What actions is Jesus a part of right now that offer hope to the hurting place you find yourself in?
- If you are doing good on the faith side of things today, what message can you take from Jesus’ words as to how you might encourage someone you know who is doubting?