John, meanwhile, had been locked up in prison. When he got wind of what Jesus was doing, he sent his own disciples to ask, "Are you the One we've been expecting, or are we still waiting?"
Jesus told them, "Go back and tell John what's going on:
The blind see,
The lame walk,
Lepers are cleansed,
The deaf hear,
The dead are raised,
The wretched of the earth learn that God is on their side.
"Is this what you were expecting? Then count yourselves most blessed!"
When John's disciples left to report, Jesus started talking to the crowd about John. "What did you expect when you went out to see him in the wild? A weekend camper? Hardly. What then? A sheik in silk pajamas? Not in the wilderness, not by a long shot. What then? A prophet? That's right, a prophet! Probably the best prophet you'll ever hear. He is the prophet that Malachi announced when he wrote, 'I'm sending my prophet ahead of you, to make the road smooth for you.'
"Let me tell you what's going on here: No one in history surpasses John the Baptizer; but in the kingdom he prepared you for, the lowliest person is ahead of him. For a long time now people have tried to force themselves into God's kingdom. But if you read the books of the Prophets and God's Law closely, you will see them culminate in John, teaming up with him in preparing the way for the Messiah of the kingdom. Looked at in this way, John is the 'Elijah' you've all been expecting to arrive and introduce the Messiah.
"Are you listening to me? Really listening?
The question of John’s followers is the same question that we have now: Are you the one or are we still waiting?
In so many ways we are still waiting.
In so many ways we don’t have to wait any longer.
What I keep thinking about though is that we really don’t have to wait. Christ has come. He lived, he died, he rose again, he sent the Spirit, and showed us the way.
It’s one of those weird things where we really do know what we should be doing and how we should be living. Yet, we somehow create an excuse to “wait.”
It’s kind of like me and exercise.
I know what I should do. But, I am able to create every excuse in the book to wait.
We know that we don’t have to wait to live out a subversive-gracious-love, indeed, we have been tasked to do so. Yet, we find excuses for why can’t, won’t, or shouldn’t.
The excuses range from “truth-telling” to “those people hate me and so why should I practice a subversive-gracious-love toward them?” We are waiting for a reason to practice subversive-gracious-love but we have the reason. Jesus lived and loved that way. The Christ lit up this world with a subversive-gracious-love that has changed everything. But, we choose to… wait.
While we are asking the same question that John’s disciples asked, I think that Jesus is asking the same question too.
“Are you listening to me? Are you really listening?”
I have to wonder if we are.
No, I take that back, I don’t think we are.
What I see in myself and many in my tribe is a lack of subversive-gracious-love. We care more about our comfort, status, and control than we are about loving with the reckless abandon of Christ.
In a conversation I had this week I was recommending to a friend that we won’t ever regret erring on the side of love and grace. Yet, as I consider my own life and how I respond to people in my life, am I practicing that?
I want to say, “Yes!”
But, in too many ways, the answer is “No.”
If I’m really listening to Christ then I will be known for loving well. I will be known as one who lived out the practices of subversive-gracious-love on a daily basis and in every space I enter. As I process my life and continue to do the work of growing and maturing I realize how far I have yet to go to truly, consistently, love well.
My desperate prayer is that I would listen, really listen, to Jesus.
How about you? Are you listening? Really listening?
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