When our expectations rest on one and only one person, hope vanishes unless that person delivers. A pinch hitter in the last of the ninth with two out illustrates this principle. If he fails to deliver, then there is no hope; the game is over. However, a pinch hitter in the bottom of the ninth with no outs is quite another matter. If he fails to deliver, there are two more chances for victory; there is still hope! This was John's question when He saw his own life endangered as well as the perennial issues that followed the One who he came to announce. John had a simple question and that question is the basis for today/s message.

Consider the following brief snippet: “Then fear came upon all, and they glorified God, saying, 'A great prophet has risen up among us'; and, 'God has visited His people.' And this report about Him went throughout all Judea and all the surrounding region. Then the disciples of John reported to him concerning all these things. And John, calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to Jesus, saying, 'Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?' When the men had come to Him, they said, 'John the Baptist has sent us to You, saying, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?”' And that very hour He cured many of infirmities, afflictions, and evil spirits; and to many blind He gave sight. Jesus answered and said to them, 'Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.'” (Luke 7.16-23).

Notice first of all that Jesus did not claim nor disclaim to be the Coming One. When He was questioned by John's disciples, He could easily have said, “Go tell John that I am the One”; or if that were not the case, He could have said, “Go tell John I am not the One.” It is clear that the expectations of John (and probably all of Israel who believed the prophets) were for the Coming One (not one and then another; just ONE)! Rather than respond with words, however, Jesus told the men to go tell John what they had seen. The proof of Jesus was not in words; it was in deeds! In order for His deeds to have been proof, they would of necessity have been the fulfilment of prophecy. And, that is exactly what Jesus knew and what He told John's disciples to observe and relay to John.

Isaiah, who completed his work over seven centuries before the birth of Jesus, is frequently referred to as the Messianic prophet. More than any other, his words foresaw the Coming One. Starting with the virgin birth (Isaiah 7.14) and progressing through the whole of the book, Isaiah spoke plainly as well as figuratively of the coming Messiah. None of his prophecies were more explicit than those that foretold the character and the work of Messiah. Among other things, it was foretold that Messiah would heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the leper and the myriad of other miraculous deeds that would characterize Him (see Isaiah 30.5,6; 42.7; 41:1-3; 61.1, etc.). Besides all of this was the explicit prophecy that the Coming One would be the instrument through whom the poor would have the Gospel (Good News) preached to them. Hardly anyone else had cared for the poor, except as they might manipulate them to achieve their own selfish ends (as the Sadducees and Pharisees routinely did)! Yet, the followers of Jesus were mainly amongst the poor and He seemed to like it that way.

All the evidence that John needed was available. By considering the prophecies concerning Messiah and comparing them with the signs that Jesus performed, John reached the right conclusion. No other witness was necessary. Mark it down! The same witness that John considered proves Jesus' Messiahship today just as strongly and just as certainly as it did 2000 years ago. We need no further witness!

Questions:

1. In John's charge to his disciples, what evidence is there that the hope of Israel rested in one and only one person?

2. Why do you think Jesus didn't just forthrightly answer John's question with a Yes or No response?

3. To what Old Testament prophet did Jesus turn for the source of the prophecies that would prove He was Messiah? What term is frequently applied to this prophet?

4. If John could know of the deeds of Jesus and reach the right conclusion about Him, can we view the same evidence and also reach the right conclusion about Him today? Why or why not?