Based on: Matthew 11:2-11
Have you been keeping an eye on the Christmas tree at your house? Have you been waiting and watching for that one package to appear under the tree with your name on it, that gift you’ve been looking forward to getting? Perhaps you are not looking for anything specific this year, but sometimes there is something very specific you need or want.
The people of this world are looking for something special as well. They know there is something missing in their lives, and so the people of this world are constantly searching, constantly looking for that thing that will satisfy their desires, fill that hole in their soul. People need to be loved and so they chase after this relationship or that relationship thinking that this girl or that guy is going to love them. Yet many relationships still end in divorce and even the best spouse sometimes disappoints and angers.
There’s so much tragedy and misery in the world and people long for happiness and security. You know how people try to make themselves happy and content by accumulating large amounts of money and the things that money can buy. You also know that even if you accumulate large amounts of money and the things money can buy, that doesn’t mean you’ll be happy or content. Others try to find happiness through power, drugs, alcohol, sex, and other means. In the end, none of them work.
The people of this world also look for the solution to that question about what happens after they die. They look at their existence here on this earth and wonder if this is all there is. Quite possibly they reason, “If I am going to die someday and eventually people are going to forget me, then what meaning does my life have? And what happens after I die? If there is a God is he going to punish me?”
They are looking for a solution to their troubled consciences. This causes hopelessness, despair and sometimes even suicide. We are part of this world. Because of this feeling of guilt, we may be tempted to think that others don’t love us, and that we can’t be happy. At time we too have doubts and fears about what will happen after we die.
The people of this world need help, but they don’t know where to look for it. They end up looking in all the wrong places. That’s where we are different because we know God promised to solve our problems.
The Jews of Jesus day knew more about that than any others at that time. God had given them promise upon promise about how He would take away their sin, how He loved them, how He would bring them happiness. The Old Testament prophecies spoke about the Messiah who would come to bring life. He would take away guilt. Life and happiness would be wherever He went. The Jews were looking for this Messiah, this gift from God.
Then Jesus, the promised Messiah, came. In our reading for today we heard John ask Him a question, "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?" Remember that John had already baptized Jesus and had already pointed to him as the Christ. And so some wonder if John was telling his disciples to go asked Jesus this question so that his disciples could hear it from Jesus, or if John himself, while he is imprisoned, was having some doubt. It really doesn’t matter why, because it is Christ’s answer that holds the comfort for us.
So John asked his question and in effect John was asking, "Jesus, are you that one whom God has promised for so long that would take her sins away and solve all our problems, who would display God’s love and bring his happiness and security both now and forever? " And what was Jesus response? Jesus simply says look at what I’m doing and compare that to the prophecies of Scripture. Look at how I am doing exactly what Isaiah said the Messiah would do. "The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor."
Yes, Jesus is the one we were waiting for. Jesus is the one who fulfills all those Old Testament prophecies. He crushed the serpent’s head as God said he would in the Garden of Eden. He did bring health and healing and life to people as he walked on this earth. And He preached the good news as He went. If there was doubt in John’s mind, then when he heard what Jesus said and what He was doing, any doubt would have left John.
With John, we too can be sure that this Jesus is the one we were waiting for. He solves all our problems. He takes care of our greatest and most pressing need by forgiving our sins. Because He forgives our sins, our conscience no longer needs to bother us. We can tell those guilty feelings to leave us. Because we are forgiven, we can be sure that our God loves us, even if others in the world do not. With God on our side we trust His promises that we have everything we need to be happy and secure and most of all there is no need to wonder about what happens after we die. God tells us very clearly that it is something to look forward to. God gives our life meaning and purpose. He tells us how to live our lives for Him, and He tells us that when we do, He will bless us. As we confess our faith to others He promises that His power will be there to carry out His will.
There is one more promise from God which we trust – that this Jesus, who came to fulfill Scripture once, will come again to fulfill Scripture. And again He will come with healing for all our diseases. He will raise us from the dead, and He will proclaim the good news that we are forgiven.
The people of this world have the solution to all their problems in this one person, Jesus Christ, and yet they search everywhere else for that special thing they know is missing from their lives; that happiness and security which they long for with great anticipation. We know Jesus is the one we were waiting for. He has come, and he will come again. You may not find Him under your tree this Christmas, but you will find this perfect gift as you hear the Christmas message and all of God’s Word.