John summoned two of his disciples and sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” —Luke 7:18-19
I’d like to watch Jesus teach gardening science to the third graders I volunteered to teach a few years ago. Whether it was something specific about that class of children, something about how the educational system was bringing them up, or some normal developmental trait, I couldn’t get them to draw conclusions about what they were observing in the garden. They seemed so concerned about making a wrong guess that often they wouldn’t even venture an answer. “Why do you think the bees are going for the brightest flowers?” Silence. “How did that carrot get under the dirt?” Silence. “Why do you think there are thorns on the blackberry plants?” Silence. Even if I said, “Come on, kids, give me your best guess!” their answers were tentative at best.
I imagine Jesus was good-natured about it when John the Baptist’s disciples asked him if he was the Messiah, but I also suspect there was an element of “Come on, use your brains, what do you think, given the evidence?” His answer, “Look around. See what I’m doing,” sounds a lot like another line he used once. “Every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit… Therefore by their fruits you will know them” (Matt 7:17, 20). I love how Jesus gets straight to the point and asks people to decide for themselves what they think and believe instead of giving a theological proof of his identity. Given the evidence: the blind recovering their sight, cripples walking, lepers cleansed, the dead raised to life, and the poor having good news preached to them, how could John and his disciples not believe Jesus was God’s promised one? And if they didn’t believe given that evidence, what theological argument could convince them? “Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard,” he said. He could have well concluded, “Then decide for yourselves what you think.”
For reflection: Where do you see good work being done and lives being transformed in the world today? Rather than dissect who God is using as an instrument for good, simply appreciate the positive that is happening now.