Have you ever been in a situation where people did not live up to the hopes and expectations you had for them? If so, you can probably understand why John the Baptist was confused in the Gospel from Matthew, we will read on Sunday.
Uncertain, scary times can shake us up and cause us to have doubts about our faith. John the Baptist is a good example. When we, like John, are moved by the Holy Spirit, we vow to follow God. When we receive blessings, we are sure that Jesus is our Savior. When we face tragedies and disasters, we question our faith. We question why these things happen. We are wrapped up in our suffering that sometimes we can’t see, hear or feel God’s presence.
John clearly shows us what happens to his and our narrow expectations. Christ came for him, but he came in a way that John did not expect. We will find reconciliation and peace if we can see beyond our expectations and look for new places where Jesus is working.
Jesus came to reverse things. He came to help those in need. He didn’t come to destroy the wicked. He came to restore th em and give them a second chance. In other words, he came for us. We are the ones who need help. We are the ones who need someone to help us in the days in which we live. To give us strength and hope.
Jesus did preach repentance, but he offered mercy and healing. He judges us through mercy. Judgement has come, and Jesus the judge has decided that those of us who have accepted him as their savior by faith will receive mercy. In return, we are to continue his ministry pf healing and teaching.
We may at times have doubts about our faith especially if we are suffering or praying for something. Sometimes we wonder why God allows suffering or why God doesn’t answer our prayers. At times like these we must be like John. He had doubts, but he was open to hearing Jesus say that He is the Messiah. God doesn’t get mad at us when we have doubts. In fact, he is loving and gracious. He cares about our doubts and problems, but He cares more about us. All of our doubts will be gone, and all of our questions will be answered when we enter into glory.
When we have doubts, we can do the following things:
- Admit our doubts and ask for help like John did.
- Put faith to action.
- Keep going back to what we know to be true.
Sometimes we have on blinders. These blinders hinder our vision of where God is. If we take them off, we can see where God is in our lives and trust in him.
Jesus asks us to stretch our understanding of who the Messiah is. A different model than the magical problem solver or giver of good things that we want to have. When we remain faithful in the face of prayers that are not answered or hopes that go unfulfilled. God does not promise a life without pain, but He does promise that He will walk with us and that we will come out whole in the end.
When Jesus said that the least in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than John the Baptist, he was not belittling John but highlighting the extraordinary privilege of being in the kingdom. John prepared the way for the coming of the Messiah, but those in the kingdom experience its reality.
Advent is a time of expectation, a time of waiting for the coming of our Savior. He comes among us in His word and through the Holy Spirit. He stirs us up and gets us involved in His ministry among those who are neglected by our Society. That is the expectation for us, and it is also the world’s expectation for us as Christians, so it should be our expectation as well. It is up to us to meet those expectations.