The late 1960’s and early 1970’s saw a great deal of restlessness among American youth. One of the manifestations of that restlessness was a number of young people who, putting a back-pack on their backs, set out to explore the world. We had a handful of these wanderers find us and find a home away from home at our house in LaPaz. More faces than names come to mind, but Geoff’s is one name I can’t forget. I’ve often wondered what happened to those lost souls like Geoff. I wonder if they ever found the object of their search or if these so many years later they are still searching.
Even through his successes as a prophet, even after having heard the voice of Father from heaven at The Baptism it seems John the Baptizer still had some doubt about whether or not Jesus really was the long awaited Messiah. Having heard what Jesus was doing, John, now in prison for angering Herod, sent his question, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”
The reply given by Jesus was to look at the evidence. The blind see and the lame walk, lepers are made clean and the deaf hear, and there are dead risen (Matthew 11:2-15). The evidence that something powerful was at work was clear. Even more, the evidence pointed directly to the fact that Jesus was indeed the One who was to come, the One so anticipated, the anointed One of God, the Messiah himself. There was no one else for whom to look. John’s work was finished, and he could in good conscious “rest” from his work.
I wonder how many of us are like either the searching young people who found a bed and meal under our roof or like faithful John who even having been witness found himself in a moment of doubt. How much is the question ours, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”
Jesus pointed John to the evidence. I don’t know about you, but John’s reality is not mine. I read of the miracles; I even believe they happened; but that kind of signs of power are not part of my experience. That’s not to say there have not been plenty of opportunities for God to show that power. To tell the truth, I’m somewhat at a loss to explain why God hasn’t shown His power like that in my world. I can make some guesses. I consider that even in Jesus’ day not every blind man regained his sight, not every lame walked, not every deaf person heard, not every leper was cleansed, not every dead person was raised from the dead. It might seem that Jesus was selective in the show of His power and that His evidence was shown only when it was necessary. I’m not suggesting God can’t do miracles today. I’m not suggesting He doesn’t do miracles today.
The reality is that there is evidence greater than that given to John. During this season, while looking ahead to a second Advent we remember the first. The greater sign is in the Word become flesh, incarnate in the womb of a virgin. The greater sign is in a death, a death in which the sinless became sin on our behalf. The greater sign is in the resurrection, not a resurrection like that of Jairu’s daughter or that of the son of the widow at Nain or the calling forth of Lazarus. The sign is in The Resurrection, the one that proves the deity of Jesus while it proves His power over sin and death.
The real evidence is not in that some are healed of their physical ailments but in that because of the great sign of Jesus there is healing of the spiritual brokenness that separates us from God. The evidence is in the forgiveness of sin and the new life and new relationship God gives to those who heed the evidence. There is, indeed, good news preached to the poor.