When John the Baptist heard about this Jewish man, Jesus, what he was teaching and how he was healing people with all sorts of diseases, he questioned to himself whether or not this could be the man that he had been declaring would come in fulfillment of Messianic prophecy. So he sent two of his followers to find out. They asked Jesus the question and got a less than definite answer, at least it was not a clear cut Yes or No. Jesus sent the men back to John the Baptist, not with an answer, but with a recommendation that they tell him what they had seen and heard – that is, that “the blind are made to see, the lame start to walk, lepers are being cleansed, the deaf can hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.” I am sure the messengers expected a much simpler answer.
Why did Jesus answer as he did? My answer would be – and it is implied rather than stated – that he wanted John to think it all through and come to a more complete understanding. He wanted him to reflect on the remarkable things that were happening in the land, to understand the fuller meaning of the long-awaited coming of the Messiah. Truth is more powerful when it comes as a result of one’s own thought process than if someone tells it to you. I believe Jesus wanted John to reflect on the marvelous things that were happening and come to the personal conclusion that Jesus was the coming one he had been announcing.
The broader implication is that Jesus would have us reflect seriously on the deeper issues of life. I’m not talking about getting involved in groups for semi-intellectual discussions but rather giving careful and private consideration to the more central issues of life. We need to think long and hard about what God is teaching us through scripture about such things as life itself, the fact for the believer life is eternal, the vital importance of personal relationships, and many more. It is in private moments like this that we begin to understand with all humility what God has to say about those issues that are truly significant. Truth needs to become our truth in the sense that we not only understand it, but that we express it in the way we live out our seventy plus years.
I believe that God takes great delight in personally guiding us through the process of learning in this more complete sense. Truth is not an abstract concept but a guide for life – it was meant to be lived. God the Father, with the able assistance of God the Holy Spirit, is a mentor who genuinely cares that we understand in depth how to live a Christ-like life.