Reflection for Today:
Luke 7:22-23 And [Jesus] answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”
Though Jesus had been doing astounding miracles, even raising a young man from the dead, John the Baptist wondered if Jesus really was the promised Messiah. “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” John asked, sending some of his disciples to convey this question to Jesus. Because Jesus didn’t fulfill John’s expectations for the Messiah, John was understandably perplexed by Jesus and unsure of how to respond to his authority.
Jesus sent back John’s disciples with this answer: “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me” (Luke 7:22-23). As we read what Jesus said, we might interpret this mainly as a claim to supernatural power. It was as if Jesus had said, “Look, I’m doing miracles, the kind of miracles only God can do. So you had better believe that I am the Messiah.”
This understanding of Jesus is close, but doesn’t quite get the nuance of his answer to John. In order to grasp Jesus’s meaning more fully, we need to remember one of the prophecies of Isaiah. In chapter 35, the prophet offers a vision of God coming to save and redeem his people. This vision includes the following scene: “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” (Isaiah 35:5-6). When you compare this prophecy with Jesus’s answer to John, you can see that Jesus is simply claiming to do amazing miracles. He is also identifying himself and his ministry with Isaiah’s promise of what God would do when God came to save his people.
The fact that Jesus had raised the dead added to his divine credentials, fulfilling the vision of Ezekiel in which God gives life to the “dry bones” of his people (Ezekiel 37). Jesus’s preaching good news to the poor also confirmed his status as God’s anointed representative. In Luke 4, Jesus claimed to be the one about whom Isaiah once prophesied: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor” (4:18). So in multiple ways, the actions of Jesus demonstrated his divine authority. He was God’s chosen one, even God in human flesh.
When we are confronted by the authority of Jesus in our lives, we can choose how to respond. We can relate to Jesus as we would to an ordinary friend, someone who advice we take seriously but feel free to reject. We can consider Jesus a “good teacher” who had many fine ideas in addition to some that weren’t so great. Or we can choose to respond to Jesus as God who has come to heal broken bodies, restore ruined lives, set free the poor and the oppressed, reconcile and redeem our lives and proclaim the good news of God’s kingdom. We can relate to Jesus as one who speaks and acts with the very authority of God. We can receive his offer of new life, turning away from our old life in order to follow him in everything we do and say.
Lord Jesus, your response to John confirms your unique identity. You are indeed God’s anointed one, God’s Messiah. Yet, even more, you are the very presence of God. When you acted, God was acting. When you spoke, God was speaking. Your authority was the very authority of God.
Help me, Lord, to respond to your authority with appropriate awe, openness, teachability, and obedience. May I strive to understand how your teaching speaks to me in this day and serving you in all that I do. Amen.
( ✍️ Mark. D Roberts – edited NW)