It’s strange and one of the signs that verify the truth of the gospels: the embarrassing story of how slow the disciples are to recognize Jesus’ true authority. It’s those who aren’t following Jesus that recognize the threat to their way Jesus is. It is a Gentile centurion who recognizes the full scope of Jesus’ authority because in a far greater way, it matches his own.
“Jesus was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to Him: ‘Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But, say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, Go, and he goes; and that one, Come, and he comes. I say to my servant, Do this, and he does it’.” (Luke 7: 6 – 8)
Jesus moves from that demonstration of authority through healing to raising a young man back from death. This news spread throughout the land and word got back to John through at least two witnesses – scriptural verification for what is true. Yet, John sends those same two or more witnesses right back to Jesus, not with awe and praise, but with a skeptic’s question: “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Luke 7: 19 – 20)
“At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. So, he replied to the messengers, ‘Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.” (Luke 7: 21 – 23)
We never hear if John was able to rest assured of Jesus’ authority with that answer. We assume so but don’t know for sure. What I do know is each of us has to come to grips with the authority of Jesus for ourselves. We have to decide who He is and because of that decide, are we going to follow him.
Jesus has already warned us, copycats are coming. Convincing and persuasive speakers are coming. Miracle workers, busting out with signs and wonders are coming. Do not be deceived. There is only one original. The mystery of faith has already been declared: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.
Do not expect or look for someone else to come. The One has already come.