Jesus has a history of not matching up with people’s expectations. In Luke 7 Jesus is healing blind people, sick people. He interrupts a funeral to raise a widow’s son from the dead! His ministry is epic! Not everyone’s expectations are being met though. The disciples are probably thinking, “We are spending too much time with lepers, the poor, and tax collectors. It’s good that they want to change but we better be careful not to tick off the establishment or we’ll find ourselves on the outside looking in.” The people in Luke 7: 16 say “A great prophet is among us!” Even this estimation of Jesus will ultimately fail to satisfy the people. Jesus will not settle with being a prophet.
John the Baptist, who has been in a prison cell for some time sends people to ask, “Are you the Christ or are we supposed to be looking for someone else?” (Luke 7: 20) Why would he ask such a thing? John was the one that saw the dove come down on Jesus’ shoulder and the voice of God say, “This is my Son.” (John 1: 32-34) How much more endorsement do you need?
Jesus replies, “Tell John that, ‘the blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.’ ” (Luke 7: 22) This reply is a reference to the Old Testament where Isaiah says, ‘when the Messiah comes the blind will see, the lame will walk, lepers will be cured, the deaf will hear, the dead will be raised, and the good news will be preached to the poor.’ (paraphrase of Isaiah 35)
John knows this. He knows that the Messiah will do these things. We can forgive John though, if he were to reply, “Yeah but what about Isaiah 42: 7, ‘I am going to … open the eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness’? ” Why aren’t you doing those things? What do you do when your expectations of God don’t match up with what He does?
When we pray to God about what we really think we need He has three answers, ‘Yes,’ ‘No,’ or ‘Wait.’
Often it is the ‘Yes’ that we really want. ‘No’ can really wound us but ‘Wait’ is the one that is the hardest to hear. God loves us too much to give us what we ask for all the time. God’s ‘No’ is a gift unlooked for (sometimes unwanted) and God’s ‘Wait’ is a trial that tests us. It can even break us.
John the Baptist, who Jesus called, “the best man ever” (Luke 7: 28) never got out of prison. He was a tremendous prophet, struck down in the prime of his ministry. He suffered in prison for months before being beheaded at the request of a spoiled teen-aged brat. His head was used as a prop for the amusement of his enemies. Sometimes God’s answers to prayer are impossible to understand and we must trust that God is wise enough to know what is best, loving enough to want the best for us and strong enough to make sure it happens. I pray God’s blessing on you if you are suffering through a time of crisis when God says, ‘No’ or when He asks you to wait.