When the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?'” … Jesus answered them, “Go tell John what you have seen and heard…” – Luke 7:18-30
You don’t have to be in jail to need to know. You don’t have to be facing execution to wonder. You don’t have to be watching your life’s work crumble to condense all your puzzlement and pain into one urgent question for Jesus: “Are you the one?”
All it takes is a shadow drifting across the sun of our faith—a contradiction, a failure, a loss. God zigs where we thought God would zag. Suddenly there are trees but no forest; pixels but no picture. Down go our hearts. Up goes our cry: “Are you really the one? Is this really the way?”
Jesus doesn’t offer pious assurances: “Tell John all will be well.” He doesn’t proclaim dogma: “Tell John God is in charge.” He doesn’t cite authority, “Tell him I said so.” He says, “Tell John what you see and hear.”
What you see and hear.
How do disillusioned hearts turn the corner to hope again? Often it’s when a sister or brother shares with us true stories about God’s mercy in their own lives and about the graceful things God is doing in the world—what they have seen and heard. And the more they tell, the more the big picture clarifies, and the more the risk of faith feels right again.
I doubt that authoritative utterances or pious assurances encouraged John in jail. But I bet his heart leapt when his disciples returned with Eyewitness News.
Lord, send me messengers with eyewitness news to encourage my faith. And send me to others, to tell them everything I know of you.
Mary Luti is a long time seminary educator and pastor, author of Teresa of Avila’s Way and numerous articles, and founding member of The Daughters of Abraham, a national network of interfaith women’s book groups.