Good morning! I hope this day finds you and your family well, and I want you to know that you are in my prayers daily during this difficult time.
I invite you to take a few moments with me to reflect on today’s Upper Room Devotional below — as well as on the theology woven into “It is well with my soul.”
Matthew 11:1-11 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
11 Now when Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and proclaim his message in their cities.
Messengers from John the Baptist
2 When John heard in prison what the Messiah[a] was doing, he sent word by his[b] disciples 3 and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” 4 Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers[c] are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. 6 And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”
Jesus Praises John the Baptist
7 As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? 8 What then did you go out to see? Someone[d] dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. 9 What then did you go out to see? A prophet?[e] Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written,
‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way before you.’
11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today
John the Baptist was locked up in prison for offending King Herod. John sent his followers to Jesus, and they asked him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” (Matthew 11:3). John needed to know if Jesus was the real deal—the true Messiah.
In the first century there were a lot of false messiahs going around in the region claiming to be God’s anointed one. One of those, for example, was a man named Judas of Galilee who led a bloody revolt against a Roman census in the year 6. Another one, named Simon, was a slave of Herod who became a messianic figure when he rebelled in the year two years earlier. After Jesus there was yet another named Theudus, who was killed when he attempted a revolt against the Romans. And those are just a few of the more prominent ones.
No wonder, then, that John asked, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?”
Jesus’ answer is intriguing—it is neither “yes” nor “no.” Rather, he simply tells John’s followers to watch what Jesus is doing and make up their own minds: “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me” (vv. 4-6).
Jesus is saying to them, in effect, Look at what I’m doing and then decide for yourself whether I am really the Messiah. He is encouraging them to look at what he is doing and not at what he is saying. He’s not just “talking the talk,” he’s “walking the walk.”
And, Jesus expected his followers also to walk the walk, as well, as they would follow him. He said that we would be known not by our words, but by the “fruit” our lives would bear—just as a tree is known by its fruit. He said that we would be known by the way we love others.
Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the words and music that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
I am so grateful for you, for our church, and for the Love that will see us all through this very difficult time. Please stay safe and well and we’ll be together again in spirit tomorrow morning!
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster