To read the texts click on the texts: Isa 45:6-8,18, 21-26; Lk7:19-23
Luke has mentioned earlier in his Gospel (3:20) that John was in prison, there
is nothing to suggest that he is still in prison when he asks the question
about Jesus’ identity. Here, the question is asked after John receives a report
from two of his disciples about the things that Jesus was doing. Thus, a number
of explanations have been offered as to why John asked this question of Jesus.
One reason is that John, after hearing the report from his disciples, was
troubled by uncertainty. If he was still in prison (as Matthew clearly states
he was when he sent his disciples to ask the question) then this uncertainty
would have been greater. Another reason is that John expected the Messiah to
come with spewing fire and venom, but Jesus was reaching out to people in
unconditional love. This surprised John since Jesus was not the kind of Messiah
he had expected. Another reason is that John, though not sure, was hopeful that
The Messiah, whose coming he had announced, had indeed come in Jesus and that
would vindicate his own proclamation.
Or, John thought that, by asking such a question of Jesus, he could
encourage him to make a public announcement so that all would know that the
Messianic age had arrived.
disciples sent by John repeat the question of John to Jesus. In his response to
them, who had probably seen, just then, the healings performed by him, Jesus
lists six prophetic actions. These actions are works which both Elijah and
Elisha had accomplished, as well as others mentioned in the book of Isaiah.
Jesus was not merely a prophet, like Elijah or Elisha; he was the fulfillment
of all the prophets. Besides healing those in need of it, the poor were also
promised redemption through the preaching of Jesus. Jesus’ answer ends with a
challenge not to have a stereotypical view of him or a preconceived notion that
will prevent one from encountering Jesus as he is. A blessing is pronounced on
those who will not reject him even though he turns out to be different from
what they expected, imagined, or hoped he would be.
cannot be captured in an image, or picture, or put in a box. He remains bigger
than anything we can ever imagine. Thus, what is required if one is to
encounter him is to get rid of any categories that we may have used to define
him. Jesus fits no specific category and
yet, belongs to all of them. We sometimes think we know who Jesus is, what he
stands for, and what he is doing, and then he surprises us and does something
quite contrary to our expectations. Many scholars and holy men and women have
proposed first one understanding of who Jesus is, and then another. They are
all correct and all incorrect. Thus, the best response to Jesus is to be
constantly open to whatever revelation he decides to make and to keep our whole
being open in the hope that we will encounter him.
is only important for us to constantly realize that God has acted in Jesus, and
has been revealed as a God of the poor, a God who wants all people to be whole,
a God who reaches out to the lame, the blind, the deaf, the mute, and the scum
of society. God reaches out to tell them
that they are loved and honoured because they, too, are created in the image
and likeness of God. The ones who accept
this Jesus, will also accept that the mission he inaugurated is now their own,
and they are called to join him in continuing it as he would have done.