Jesus continued to perform several different types of miracles, showing his power and authority over all things. Yet John the Baptist began to wonder whether or not Jesus was truly the Christ, the Messiah. He had been put in jail, so he sent some of his disciples to Jesus to ask and to confirm whether Jesus was the One, or if they should be waiting and looking for another.
Even John and his disciples had some incorrect expectations about who Jesus was and what he was going to do. Like many others, and even most Jews today, they assumed that the Messiah would overthrow Rome and restore the political nation of Israel. But they were wrong. That wasn’t what the Messiah was intended to do; instead, he would lead people out of their slavery to sin, not their slavery to the Romans.
Jesus responded that the lame are walking and the blind can now see. Those who have had leprosy are now healed and even the dead have been raised. Jesus’s reply was intended to tell John that these are all signs to show that Jesus’s words were true. He is the Messiah and John shouldn’t doubt. He should believe and wait and see. John had fulfilled the purpose that God had given him in the scriptures, but he had yet to fully grasp God’s complete plan.
John’s purpose was to prepare the way for Jesus. According to Isaiah, he would prepare the way for the Lord. He would make the path straight, make the mountains low and the valleys lifted up, and all of the uneven ground will become level. And the result of this would be that glory of the Lord would be revealed. You can read this for yourself in Isaiah 40, verses 1-5. This was John’s job. His role was to make this straight path. But how? With a shovel to move the dirt? No, by calling people to repentance.
But many are too proud to say that they are wrong. Many are too set in their ways. Many will not lay themselves before God and His plan. Instead, they insist on their own plan, just as we saw the most religious in Israel do. It was those who thought that they had God all figured out, who taught others and insisted that they knew what was right, who would not believe Jesus was the Messiah, who would not be willing to believe – despite all of the miraculous evidence in contrast to their beliefs – that Jesus was truly God standing before them. Here is how Luke records the difference between those who would believe and those who wouldn’t:
All the people, even the tax collectors, when they heard Jesus’ words, acknowledged that God’s way was right, because they had been baptized by John. But the Pharisees and the experts in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John.Luke 7:29-30
So we see that the common people, and even the tax collectors, some of those considered to be the worst of the worst, the traitors, would repent and acknowledge that God’s way was right. They would believe in Jesus as the Messiah and give themselves to him. Why? Because John had called them to repentance and they were willing to give themselves over to God’s plan. Not continue in their own plan, but give themselves to that of God’s plan.
On the other hand, it was the Pharisees who would not. They would not respond to John’s call to repentance. They would not submit themselves to God’s plan. They would reject God’s purpose, stuck in unrepentance, unwilling to be baptized by John as a result of their pride and decision to have figured out everything about God and being unwilling to accept that they were wrong.
Where are we? Are we willing to see God at work and respond to Jesus for who he is? Are we willing to give ourselves to God’s plan in repentance, leaving behind our own plans? The question that was given to the Jews in the days of the John and Jesus is the same question that is given to each of us today. Regardless of who we are or where we are from. Regardless of our religious background, we each have this question to answer: Will you give your heart to Jesus and serve him?