Day 101: Matthew 11:4-6

Go back and tell John [the Baptist] what you are hearing and seeing:  the blind can see, the lame can walk, those who suffer from dreaded skin diseases are made clean, the deaf hear, the dead are brought back to life, and the Good News is preached to the poor.

How happy are those who have no doubts about me!

The context for this is that John has been arrested. Although he is in prison, he is still in contact with his own disciples. (fyi Jesus was not the only one who had disciples).   John will soon be killed by King Herod, and he is looking for confirmation in these final hours of his life, that Jesus is indeed “the one” whose coming was foretold by the prophet Isaiah; the one who will bring justice and light to the earth (excerpts from Isaiah 42:1-7):

 The LORD says, “Here is my servant, whom I strengthen—The One I have filled him with my Spirit, and he will bring justice to every nation. He will not shout or raise his voice or make loud speeches in the streets. He will not break off a bent reed nor put out a flickering lamp. He will bring lasting justice to all. He will not lose hope or courage; he will establish justice on the earth. Distant lands eagerly wait for his teaching.” And now the LORD God says to his servant, “I, the LORD, have called you and given you power to see that justice is done on earth.  Through you I will make a covenant with all peoples; through you I will bring light to the nations.You will open the eyes of the blind and set free those who sit in dark prisons.

What a great image!  You can see why the Jewish people were eager to see this prophecy fulfilled!  In response to whether Jesus is indeed “the one” in this scripture, he tells John’s disciples to look around. He tells them to testify to John about all the miracles that are happening.  He tells them to evaluate what’s happening and judge for themselves whether the Old Testament prophecies are being fulfilled.  He knows that if they tell John that the blind can see, the lame can walk, and the deaf can hear, John will connect these miracles with another prophecy in Isaiah 35:1-6:

Give strength to hands that are tired and to knees that tremble with weakness. Tell everyone who is discouraged, “Be strong and don’t be afraid! God is coming to your rescue, coming to punish your enemies.” The blind will be able to see, and the deaf will hear.  The lame will leap and dance, and those who cannot speak will shout for joy.

I think that in today’s scripture Jesus is telling John to take heart because change is coming.  He is telling John that a new future is unfolding and that God is rescuing his people.  Another supportive scripture is Isaiah 29:18-24.

When that day comes, the deaf will be able to hear a book being read aloud, and the blind, who have been living in darkness, will open their eyes and see. Poor and humble people will once again find the happiness which the Lord, the holy God of Israel, gives.  It will be the end of those who oppress others and show contempt for God. Every sinner will be destroyed. God will destroy those who slander others, those who prevent the punishment of criminals, and those who tell lies to keep honest people from getting justice.

The prophet Isaiah, often quoted by Jesus and others in his time.

Jesus doesn’t defend or label himself or his ministry.  Instead, he simply sites the fruit of his ministry, which he says in the Sermon on the Mount is the true test of a prophet (See Day 61).  He says, “the blind can see, the lame can walk, those who suffer from dreaded skin diseases are made clean, the deaf hear, the dead are brought back to life, and the Good News is preached to the poor.”  He says God’s on the move and that’s what’s important!

Jesus is on a mission from God. He has come with the intent of fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecies and hastening the unfolding of the Kingdom of God here on earth.  Jesus says to have no doubts about him.  In this scripture Jesus says that he has been assigned the task of being “the one” that the Jews have been waiting for, “the one” whose coming was predicted by Isaiah.  God’s on the move and Jesus is the appointed agent of change, so he tells John to be at peace.  He says, “Don’t worry, be happy.”  Even though John’s in jail.  Even though both of them will soon be killed.  Have no doubts, Jesus says, because God is leading them on to a new and better day.  He says believing will make them happy; doubting will only make them sad.

Today the Kingdom of God continues to unfold.  Miracles continue, people are healthier than ever, the plight of the poor slowly improving, justice is gaining ground around the world, and people are still being raised from the dead (See Day 81). Jesus tells us all, “Don’t worry, be happy.”  God will never give up on us.  The Kingdom of God will continue to unfold and of those promises of Isaiah will eventually be fulfilled. God will continue to lead all who have the courage and wisdom to follow.  He will honor the faith of all who want to live in his Kingdom.  God will continue to lead us on through the life of Jesus.  He will continue to provide his own personal guidance through his Holy Spirit working in each of us. God is still on the move. Happy are those who have no doubts about it!

What does this scripture say to you?

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