Going to re-run some thoughts from this day’s readings 10 years ago. 10 years ago. A different lifetime ago. Corporate job. Couple of girls still at home. Coming home daily to a loving wife. No brain cancer even on the radar.
Back then my translation of choice was the New King James version. Back then Jesus was “the Coming One.” 10 years later . . . so much has changed. But what hasn’t changed is that He is still the Coming One.
Ok . . . so here’s a question that transcends time. A question that carries just as much punch today as it did 2,000 years ago. A question, the answer to which, has as broad a range of implications today as it did when John the Baptist asked it. A question which, depending on the answer, has a way of forming how you desire and determine to order your life. Here’s the question . . .
“And John, calling two of his disciples to him [in prison], sent them to Jesus, saying, ‘Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?'”
(Luke 7:19 NKJV)
So, in a nutshell, here’s John’s situation. Since birth he’s been filled with the Holy Spirit, knowing he had been set apart “to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:15-17). He was so “set apart”, in fact, that he grew up in the desert (1:80) . . . not easy “formative years.” He had witnessed the evidence of Jesus being the Son of God when he baptized Jesus in the Jordan . . . the Holy Spirit descending on Him . . . the Father audibly declaring His love for His Son (Luke 3:21-22). He recognized Jesus as the “Lamb of God come to take away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). John, however, ends up in prison as He “crosses a line” with Herod in condemning Herod’s adulterous sin with his brother’s wife. And while in prison, perhaps sensing he’d never get out alive, continuing to hear of the miraculous signs and wonders being done by Jesus, John has a question, “Are You the Coming One?”
I don’t know what John expected from life . . . I don’t think this desert-dweller ever thought about “freedom 55” or living on “Easy Street.” But, as one dedicated to preparing the way for God’s anointed . . . given that his life’s work had been about making ready a way for Messiah . . . I guess you can’t blame him . . . as he sits in prison . . . for asking himself, “Is Jesus the One we were waiting for?” Expectations concerning Messiah and the reality he was now living were, perhaps, a bit at odds for him. So he asks, “Are You the Coming One?”
Good question then. Still a good question now. The prophets spoke of a Coming One. They looked for Him in John’s day . . . and He came. We look for Him today . . . and He’s coming . . . count on it!
What wasn’t clear from the prophets was that He would come twice. First, as a humble servant in the likeness of man . . . God in flesh . . . on a rescue mission . . . come, not to be served, but to serve others and give His live as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). Come to testify of the kingdom . . . and to die in order to open the gates to “whosoever will”. Conquering not the Roman oppression . . . eliminating not the religious hypocrisy . . . but instead conquering sin and death . . . and removing the wall of separation between God and man. Yes John, He was the One to come . . .
And, He is still the One to come . . .
“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” ~ Jesus
(John 14:3 NKJV)
As believers, we don’t all find ourselves in situations like John’s (though many do), but we can find ourselves, from time to time, in a place that doesn’t line up for us with the “abundant life” we’ve imagined we should have as believers . . . a place where thoughts of, “Is it really real?” find a way to the surface . . . circumstances where we ask, “Are You the Coming One?” And the answer is still, “Yes!” The promise is still true. The reality will one day be experienced. So, by faith, we order our lives in light of that day . . . by faith, we look up, for our redemption draws near . . . by faith, we keep on keeping on . . . knowing, through the inner testimony of the abiding Holy Spirit, that He is the Coming One . . . by faith, knowing that, one day, faith will give way to sight.
” ‘Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me . . . ‘ He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Even so, come Lord Jesus!”
(Rev. 22:12a, 20 NKJV)
And so, we wait by grace. And so, we serve for His glory.