Peace be with you!
Friday was a good day. It was the first day I felt like myself again after battling a cold and a staph infection the past week. I got out of beed before ten and went for an energizing bike ride with a friend. I even ate my whole lunch, which amazed me because I hadn’t eaten much all week. I did some Christmas shopping and ate leftovers for dinner. It was one of those rare perfect days when peace conquers all. The last thing I expected was news of another shooting at a school. But that is what was listed first in Google News when I opened Internet Explorer. My peace was shattered as I watched high school students get patted down outside. This is not what you expect to see during Advent. The world is supposed to be at peace during the holiday season, right?
In plain view, Jesus gives the blind sight, makes the lepers clean, allows the deaf to hear, raises the dead, and gives the poor good news (Matthew 11:5). Jesus calls people to trust in the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind, and might. John the Baptist is baffled, because he is sure Jesus is the one for whom he has been waiting. However, John believes that the one he has been prophesying about is supposed to be judging everyone and telling them if they can get into the kingdom. Contrary to John’s expectations, Jesus is befriending tax collectors, eating with sinners, and healing the sick.
While in jail, John the Baptist sends his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” (Matthew 11:3 NRSV). He is confused because Jesus is nothing like what he has been expecting. John the Baptist wants to know if Jesus Christ is the Messiah.
Jesus says to John the Baptist’s disciples, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me” (Matthew 11:4b-6 NRSV).
Jesus turns to the crowd as John’s disciples leave and asks, “What did you go into the wilderness to look for? A reed shaken by the wind? What did you go out and see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. What did you go out and see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it was written, ‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you’” (Matthew 11:7-10 NRSV).
Jesus asks us, “What do you expect? The world is still going to fight and be corrupt. People are still going to be greedy. But I am in the world with you bringing the kingdom to you.” We expect the world to be at peace during the holiday season; we don’t expect shootings in schools. We expect cookies at parties, not a casket of a child. We expect celebration throughout our communities, not pain and sorrow. We expect a lot out of the season.
Jesus points us to where his kingdom is in the world – where God enters our lives. Jesus is with our children when a shooter enters their school. Jesus holds us tight when we are hurting and feeling lost. We can expect Jesus to be with us in our darkest hour. We can expect Jesus to share a meal with us. We can expect Jesus to sit with us on the bus, plane, or train. We can expect Jesus to heal our brokenness. We can expect Jesus to walk in the shadows and bring us into the light. And when it all ends, Jesus will take us into the Kingdom of God where we will enjoy eternal life with him.
Come, O Lord, come!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for allowing us to question you. Help us to see you in the world in the midst of pain and sorrow. Guide us to see the light flickering in the darkness. Remind us you are with us in the world. Thank you for letting us lean on your Son in this time of darkness. Amen.
Thanks to the Triune God – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Please answer the following reflective questions in the comments below. Please agree to disagree and be respectful to each other. (If you have not already done so, please also take a moment, to sign the behavior covenant by commenting on it.) You can answer as many questions as you would like.
- What happens when Jesus comes into the world?
- How is Jesus received in the world?