Matthew 11:2-11 (NRSV)
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Verse 2When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples Verse 3and said to him, "Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?" Verse 4Jesus answered them, "Go and tell John what you hear and see: Verse 5the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. Verse 6And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me."
Verse 7As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: "What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? Verse 8What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. Verse 9What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. Verse 10This is the one about whom it is written, 'See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.' Verse 11Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
Now, more aware of why a state of waiting can be so painful, I have also come to discover that my best attempts at self-care in the past were just distractions from the care I really needed. Entertainment replaced sabbath and gossip was misunderstood as community. In the end, the things I thought would help just made me more tired and lonely.
John the Baptist, as susceptible to the world’s distractions as anyone, sought instead to labor in the waiting, a messenger to the crowds of people seeking baptism and transformation.
What a marvelous thing for John and the crowds to hear, that the one for whom they have been waiting was already at work offering the hope and healing of the promised redemption of God’s people. They were not alone in the waiting but joined by the Holy One whose sign to them was not a show of opulence and politicking, but of care for all God’s beloved.
Dear God, give us wisdom in the waiting to turn to you for care and turn back to others in love, resting in your Sabbath and rooting in community. In your power and strength we pray, Amen.