Why is the coming Messiah good news
Göttingen Sermons on the Internet ed. by U. Nembach
Sermon on Matthew 11: 2-11, written by Juraj Bándy
This passage from the Bible leads us to a prison. A famous inmate is guarded in this prison. Today we would say: He is political prisoner number 1. He is none other than John the Baptist. He was jailed for publicly criticizing King Herod's sinful life. He was arrested for this courage.
Time goes by slowly in prison, especially in solitary confinement. There people have a lot of time to think. It was the same with Johannes. He had time to think about himself, about his broadcast and the news that was reaching him. Even the best guarded prison cannot be completely isolated from the world.
John the Baptist received news from Christ and pondered it. Suddenly something was wrong with him. He began to doubt. What he had announced about the coming Messiah did not match what he was now hearing from Jesus.
For he imagined the Messiah with an ax in hand, with which he immediately fell the tree that did not bear good fruit. He spoke of a Messiah who has a flail in his hand with which he cleans the seeds from the chaff. He proclaimed a Messiah who instituted the order and rule of God (Mt 3, 10-12). But now he learns that Jesus walks quietly, unobtrusively and modestly through Galilee, speaks of the nearness of the kingdom of God and occasionally works a miracle. This is not how John imagined the Messiah to be. His image of the coming Messiah was different. He began to doubt: is Jesus the one to wait for or is it someone else? John the Baptist doubts. The one of whom the Lord himself said that he was the coming Elijah (Mt 17, 10-13), doubts. The one who heard the heavenly voice at the baptism of Christ: “This is my dear Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Mt 3:17), doubts. The man of whom our Lord Jesus said that “among all who were born of a woman, no one has appeared who is greater "(v. 11), doubts.
If even the greatest person in the Bible is told that he also had such a period in his life that he too doubted that his faith was wavering, how about us?
Of course, we also sometimes have doubts and our beliefs fluctuate. We all. All of us because belief and doubt somehow belong together. None of us are spared from doubt. Of the doubts that attack and ultimately destroy our faith. This applies to the "simple" believers, to the presbyters, pastors, to the bishops, including (including) the Roman bishop. If we do not conceal this, we prefer to learn from today's Bible passage (Bible text) by John the Baptist , what to do when our faith is in crisis.
1. a) Let us take an example from John the Baptist, who turned to Jesus with his problem He did not send a request to the high priests in Jerusalem that they would give him an opinion as to whether Jesus was the Messiah or not. He did not ask the Pharisees and the teachers of the law to write him an expertise as to whether Jesus of Nazareth was the coming (coming Messiah). He sent his disciples directly to Jesus. He himself could not go to Jesus because he was arrested, but he sent his disciples to Jesus with questions to which he could not find an answer.
In this regard, John the Baptist should be our example. We are not in jail. We don't have to send another person to Jesus with our problems. We can come to him ourselves. We can meet with the Lord Jesus wherever the word of God is preached, where the sacraments are administered, where two or three Christians gather in his name. We come to him with the call. Lord help me overcome my doubts.
Let us be aware that the community of believers is the place where our faith can grow stronger. Even the apostle Paul needed such strengthening for his faith. He was looking forward to the visit to Rome not only because he wanted to strengthen the Christians there in the faith, but also because it also strengthened his faith. He writes to them: "For I long to see you, so that I may impart something to you in a spiritual gift, in order to strengthen you, that is, so that I may be comforted with you through your and my faith that we have with one another" ( R 1, 11-12).
Any practicing pastor can affirm that not only does the pastor strengthen the faith of parishioners, but he sometimes needs parish empowerment.
b) Take an example from John the Baptist in that he immediately turned to the Lord. He did not leave his problem unsolved. He did not comfort himself with the fact that it would be in vain to concern himself with this question because he would not find an answer anyway. He should serve as an example for us that the question "Who is Jesus?" Was urgent for him. Is this question just as urgent and just as important for us? Or do we have other "more important" and "more urgent" questions than the question of who Be Jesus?
John the Baptist certainly had many urgent and important problems in prison. For an inmate, release is the most important thing. "What should I do to get released?" - that is his main problem. John pushed these questions aside because for him the question "Who is Jesus?" is a (central / elementary) question of life. Therefore, he turns to the Lord immediately. He wants to get the answer immediately from the most competent contact person.
When we have excuses that we have more important questions before the Jesus question, we think of John the Baptist, who had many questions and problems, but still found time and a way to contact Jesus. He found time because he was a waiting person. He was waiting for someone who would bring salvation.
Are you also, dear brother and sister, such a waiting person? Advent is a time of waiting. What are you waiting for in Advent? This is the question our Bible passage asks us. Are you also a waiting person like John the Baptist or do you no longer expect anything from life? Do you not seek elsewhere that which has already been given in Christ? Do you sometimes not forget that "our citizenship is ... in heaven"; "from where do we expect the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ" (Fil 3, 2 ^)?
2. Let's look not only at what John the Baptist does when his faith is uncertain, but also at what the reaction of Jesus to the doubting person. How does the Lord react to the question of the disciples John: “Is it you who is to come, or should we wait for someone else? (V. 3).
We would expect the Lord (Jesus) to get angry or irritated. We would rather expect an answer like this: How is it that Johanns doubts? How is it possible that one asks such a question who at my baptism heard the heavenly voice: "You are my dear son, I am well pleased with you" (Mk 1:11)? It is impossible for the faith of him to fluctuate who has made the confession: "Behold, this is the Lamb of God who bears the sin of the world" (J 1, 29)? What's wrong with Johannes? Has he forgotten everything?
But the Lord does not speak like that. He's not angry. He understands the doubting person. He can put himself in his position. Remember how loving he was with another well-known doubter, the unbeliever Thomas. The Lord has compassion for the doubters. That's the gospel, the good news in this story. Rejoice, dear brother and sister, because the Lord understands you too when you have questions, problems or doubts.
The Lord does not let the messengers do the following to John: Tell John that it is me. It's me who is supposed to come and you have to believe it. He's sending a different message. Something that can (should) strengthen his faith: "Go and say to John again what you hear and see: the blind see and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead rise, and the gospel is preached to the poor" ( Vv. 4-5). Then he adds: "Blessed is he who is not angry with me" (v. 6).
This is not a straightforward answer. Instead of giving a direct answer, the Lord points out some facts on which the Baptist's faith can be based. The facts that Jesus lists are not evidence that he is the Messiah. There are signs. Signs that lead one person to faith and are a nuisance to another. That is why the Lord says that all are blessed who do not get angry with him. Our offense comes from the fact that the image of Christ that we develop for ourselves does not coincide with the real Christ. The Jesus we wanted is different from the one we need. It can be a nuisance to us too that the Son of God was born in a stable and died shamefully on the cross. It is also difficult for us to believe in a humble, gentle, powerless, mocked and crucified Jesus. He speaks of those who can accept him like that. "Blessed is he who is not angry with me" (v. 6).
But that is only the first level of belief. We could define it this way: I believe because I am not angry with Christ. But there is also a second stage, which the Lord describes as follows: "Blessed are those who do not see and yet believe" (J 20, 29).
If the Lord has compassion for the doubters, so should we. "And have mercy on those who doubt," urges the apostle Judas (Jud 22).
3. At the end of the story we find something surprising. The Lord speaks of John. We look, as the Lord speaks of the doubter. Jesus began to speak of John when his messengers left. Behind his back. But not in the way we sometimes do, but in a positive way. He bears a positive testimony of John. From the John who is not quite sure whether Jesus is the Messiah or not. He says that John is "more than a prophet" (v.9). He confirms that the Old Testament prophecy refers to him: "See, I send my messenger before you, who is to prepare your way before you" ( V. 10). And he adds: "Among all those born of a woman there was none greater than John the Baptist" (v. 11). Despite his weakness, John is a special instrument in the hand of God. God can get through do great deeds.
God has such servants today too: weak, unworthy and insecure people. What a consolation it is to us that we can stand in the service of God in spite of our unworthiness.
Dear brothers and sisters! John the Baptist is a typical figure of Advent. It is unavoidable during Advent. In this sermon, however, it was not the Lord who prepared the way. Today he was not a witness of the Lord. Today he was not a courageous penitential preacher. Today he was a person in crisis of faith. Let us learn from his example how to get out of the crisis so that doubts do not destroy our faith.
Let us not get stuck in our doubts, but turn to the Lord Jesus, who understands the doubters. If we turn to him immediately, then we can see the miracles that he is still doing today, so that we may belong to the blessed who do not get angry with him but confess him to be Lord and Savior. Amen.
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