In Matthew 11 the disciples of John the Baptist confront Jesus wanting to know if he was “the one.” Was Jesus ‘it,’ or should they keep waiting for someone else?
It’s an interesting encounter to say the least. The disciples of Jesus had barely figured out who Jesus really was, and here’s another man’s disciples who seem to have put two and two together.
But, the deeper point here is that they were ‘waiting’ to begin with. And, they were willing to wait longer if need be.
They were waiting for the “one.”
Why? What had tipped them off that something was coming? And what did they think that ‘something’ was going to look like when it got there?
The best clue lies in Jesus’ answer to them: “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.”
Big stuff was happening. Crazy big stuff.
And, it’s what they were looking for.
Because what had tipped them off that ‘something’ big was coming was the prophesy of Isaiah. Seven hundred years before Jesus’ birth, Isaiah had foretold that the Kingdom of God would come crashing to earth and bring peace, justice, and righteousness.
Throughout this year’s Advent observations we’ve been treated to various section’s of Isaiah’s prophesies. And this Sunday, in the 35th chapter we find this: “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp, the grass shall become reeds and rushes. A highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way.”
In other words, anything that is a ‘little off’ or askew in anyway will be made right. The broken will be made whole. The sick will be made whole. The corners of creation that are dry will be made cool.
“A highway shall be there.”
I love the next verse: “it shall be for God’s people;
no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray.”
Translation: Even if you’re a dunce that can’t even figure the GPS out, you don’t have to worry because you can’t miss it.
I love that. Mostly because I’m terrible with directions.
Not even I will be able to mess it up.
And, I won’t even need Google maps.
Jesus, John the Baptist, and the church over these past 2,000 years has interpreted Isaiah’s words of wholeness and holiness to be about the coming of the Messiah, Jesus.
When Jesus came via Bethlehem, he made Isaiah’s vision manifest. And, when Jesus comes again, we’ll know the highway all the better. And, we’ll travel the “way” without fear of lion or jackal. There will be cool water at every turn.
And all things that are broken will be made whole. All people who are broken will be made whole.
What began with Jesus’ first advent, will be made all the more complete with his second.
Which, is why since the days of John the Baptist’s disciples, the prayer of faithful Christians has been: Come, Lord Jesus. O come, O come Emmanuel. Bring us your peace, your light, your way.
And while we wait still, we have no need to wait for “another.” We know who we’re waiting for.