This past Sunday we took a deep look at the Church as the kingdom of God, that place from which God exercises his merciful authority. John the Baptist came announcing the kingdom of God, preparing the way for Jesus, saying “repent! For the kingdom of God is at hand!"
This Sunday, the third Sunday of Advent, we will hear John yet again. But this time he is inquiring of Jesus from prison. “Are you the one who is to come?” He has heard of Jesus’ deeds, but he wants to be sure. Can you imagine being in John’s position? He’s given his life to preach and prepare the way for this Messiah, but is this Jesus guy really the one? And, from the isolation in prison he experiences the prison of doubt.
But Jesus, ever merciful and patient, responds in vivid imagery suitable for the Messiah. Jesus doesn’t qualify his own work or ministry with a pedigree or even a humble-brag, but he echoes the Prophet Isaiah: “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them” (Matt 11:4-5).
Jesus says the kingdom has come in me because of these signs of healing. The atmosphere created around Jesus in his faithfulness to the Father, his compassionate healing of the people is one of order, renewal, re-creation, and goodness. This is the same atmosphere that the messianic king would bring in Isaiah’s passage from last Sunday (Isa 11:1-10). And that is the answer he gives John. And that is to be the testimony of our lives as well.
As we get closer to Christmas, I hope our lives are marked by the kingdom of God more than anything else. You’re in my prayers this week -