Last Sunday, with our children, I
noted that there was an Advent character not in our nativity sets.
Anyone remember who that is? … John the Baptist. Of course, in the
timeline of the Christmas story, he is at this point but an infant
cousin of Jesus, in the arms of his parents, Elizabeth and
Zachariah. However, we insert John as an adult into this season of
Advent because he was the precursor to Jesus. He prepared the way
for the Messiah, whose birth we will celebrate in two weeks.
“Are you the one who is to come,”
is John’s question for Jesus in this morning’s gospel scripture.
John sent some of his disciples to ask Jesus about this, since
John was in prison and could not ask it in person himself. Now, in
the storehouse of our faith, we remember when Jesus was himself
baptized by John. There was some recognition in that moment, for
John questioned whether he should instead be baptized by Jesus. He
consented when Jesus replied, “Let’s
do it this way, to fulfill what God has in mind”
(Matthew 3:15, my paraphrase).
Even after that voice from heaven
spoke out when Jesus rose from the baptismal water, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased”
(3:17), John must still have harbored
doubts. “Are you the one who
is to come, or should we expect someone else?” John’s
disciples ask this of Jesus at the beginning of the today’s
We will make use of “The Visual
Bible,” a video which acts out the scripture word-for-word from
the New International Version. At the outset, let me note a couple
problems with this. First, you may not hear every word as they are
spoken by Jesus. But, then, that’s often how it is in real life.
We miss some of what others say. Did you hear everything in Joys
Second, don’t let this blunt your
imagination. You may envision things differently in your mind’s
eye. That’s okay. I sort of like how Jesus seems to be a bit
playful in this video, both tussling with a disciple at the
beginning, and speaking with a grin and a wink and even a wry
sense of humor. However, we always need to be a bit cautious in
how we see Jesus. He can look like how we think he should. Now,
that’s the good news of the incarnation – God in Christ became
like us. But, he isn’t captive to us. He is always more than our
preconceptions. He speaks and acts in ways that lead us beyond
ourselves. He opens us up to the immensity and the mystery of the
Kingdom of God.
“Are you the One,” may be our
question of Jesus as well. … Let’s listen and watch this telling
of the Gospel story…