When John heard in prison what the Christ was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” (Matt. 11:2-3 NRSV)
Last week I made a joke with Dave as he was preparing for his sermon. He told me he was going to focus on Jesus’ answer to his second cousin John’s question: “are you the one?” For some reason, romance popped into my head. I asked Dave, “so should I expect to hear stories of how Liz (Dave’s wife) won you over? I mean she is the one right?” Not really what he, Dave, was going for, but I got a laugh all the same (worth it).
But I kept going back to this concept of “the one.” There’s this vein in our culture (or society) which we believe there is “one” person out there for you. Try all your life to find him/her and you’re lucky when you do. Things click. Priorities line up. Personalities complement each other. You both are dog people. They are “the one.”
John, itinerant preacher that he was, preached the coming of the Christ, or Messiah if you will, who will usher in God’s empire over and against the Romans. “Though they might be oppressed by an outside colonizer, the days were coming when the Son of Man will be here to break us free from our bondage as did Moses” (Matthew is big on Jesus being the new Moses).
But Jesus didn’t do that though. He did something else. He preached and lived a different way. He didn’t start a military revolution, overthrowing the government and establishing a new regime. Jesus was up to something else, something that John couldn’t see as God’s work. In short, Jesus didn’t live up to John’s expectations.
I wonder what expectations you have this Advent season. Specifically, what expectations do you have of Jesus? I think it’s safe to say we all expect something of him. Like any family who has a child, we have certain expectations of what Jesus will be like, what he will grow up to be. Heck, we even have expectations of how he will come back (if you’re into that type of thing).
If our expectations aren’t grounded in what Jesus says and does, our expectations are going to be dashed and we are going to be left sheepish. He gave sight, he helped the
handicapped walk, he healed the sick, he made people hear again, he gave people new life, and he handed the poor hope. If we have these expectations of Jesus (and Christ’s body, the Church) then we can hear hope in God speaking through Jesus, “Blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.” If we listen to Jesus take him at his word, we will join with the angels on Christmas morning saying “Glory to God in the highest.”