Narrative Lectionary Reflection
February 12, 2017
It’s been nearly 20 years since I took my first trip abroad. I spent two weeks trekking Spain, France and the UK seeing all the stops that one is supposed to do when in Europe.
One evening, while in Paris, I went to the Louvre. I was interested in seeing the Leonardo daVinci’s famous Mona Lisa. This has to be the most well-known painting in the world. It is talked about so much that you start to think this is a grand painting in size. So you enter the room where it is located. A crowd is gathered it around it and it is the only painting that is encased in a plastic box to protect it from the masses.
If you were expecting a painting that might fill the gallery wall, your expectations would be dashed pretty quickly. It’s maybe a bit larger than the a regular size iPad.
None of this takes away from its beauty. But the real thing is not always what we expect.
Which is probably what John the Baptist was thinking in today’s text. He’s sitting in jail and hearing from his disciples that Jesus is healing the servant of a Roman centurion and raising a widow’s son from the dead Our faith is always about God and people.
This probably wasn’t what John was expecting. He was preaching about fires and threshing floor and separating wheat from chaff. John was hardcore, and he expect the one he was preparing the way for was going to kick the Romans out and put those Pharsiees in their place.
But then the real Jesus shows up and it’s not what he expected. So he asks Jesus that question,”Are you the one who is coming, or should we look for someone else?”
Jesus’ response is interesting because he doesn’t directly answer John. Instead he tells John what he’s done: “Those who were blind are able to see. Those who were crippled now walk. People with skin diseases are cleansed. Those who were deaf now hear. Those who were dead are raised up. And good news is preached to the poor.”
Jesus tells John the Baptist what he’s done instead of saying who he is. John learns who Jesus is through what he has done. John is to witness what Jesus has done.
Who is Jesus to you? What do we expect from Jesus? Maybe we expect Jesus to prevent hunger or keep kids from dying in wars or stop terrorist attacks. We have an imaginary God that does what we expect and then we have a real God that is not doing what we expect at all.
We will be disappointed at times that God isn’t all that we wanted. But remember what Jesus said: the blind can see. The dead are raised. The poor have good news. Remember what God has done in your life and in the life of others.
Jesus never lives up to our expectations. But the Jesus we get, the real one is far more wonderful than anything we could have expected.
Dennis Sanders is the Pastor at First Christian Church of St. Paul in Mahtomedi, Minnesota. He’s written for various outlets including Christian Century and the Federalist.