How do you know you’re on the right track? 

Matthew 11: 2-11. 2 When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples 3 to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” 4 Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 6 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” 7 As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 8 If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. 9 Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written: ‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ 11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

John had to have been bushed. I don’t know his whole story but for all his living in the wilderness, wearing clothes of camel hair (probably not the most comfy I assume) and living off of the land (locusts and honey); he was rewarded with prison. So, my guess is he was looking for a bit of “So this was all worth it. It was difficult searching for and preparing for the messiah but we made it.” With everything else he was; John was still human. We’re all looking for validation that our search wasn’t in vain aren’t we?

Unfortunately, as so often goes, no one hands us a validation slip (you know, the ones like they give you stamped in red ink that allow you to get out of the parking garage without paying). No, Jesus tells Johns followers to look, listen and report (seems a bit Paul Blart-ish, eh?). This is not how we want things. We want assurance. We want to be secure in the knowledge that what we have searched

for and told everyone about has actually come. We’re Charlie Brown peering into the empty mailbox for our Christmas cards and when we call out “Hello!” all we get is an echo. The thing is, the confirmation is there, we may just not be around to hear it or in the right place to hear it.

I have to hope for John’s sake that his disciples heard Jesus talking about him and held up in heading back. Because while Jesus questioned exactly what John thought he would find and in what form, he also said that John was the messenger that the prophecy foretold. For all John’s greatness he was still so much like humanity in general. We’re all stumbling around out there in whatever “wilderness” we’ve bumbled into or created. We’re all searching for something, probably looking for the wrong thing most of the time and we all yearn to know we’re on the right path. Jesus’s endorsement and praise of John should give us hope.

We’re all, in our own fashion, paving the way for Jesus. Are we going to feel lost? Yes. Are we going to wonder if we’re on the right track? Yes. Are we going to question whether our time has been well spent? Again, yes. The thing we can know though is that Jesus knows our struggle and our humanity and it is through him that we are saved.

The Everyday Questions

Where or in what way are you lost today and where are you looking for assurance that you are indeed on the right path?

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