In the Lectionary

December 11, Advent 3A (Matthew 11:2-11)

John the Baptist is not sure if Jesus is very Christlike.

From his clothing and eating practices to his intense personality and wilderness lifestyle, we know John the Baptist for being eccentric. As far as we can tell from scripture, this is not a pointless performance. Rather, it is all part of being disciplined in his sense of purpose and identification with Elijah.

In many ways, he is wearing his vocation on his sleeve. Before he even opens his mouth, those around him know that John is dedicated to being a prophetic voice for the people of God. Such a voice has been missing for hundreds of years. By the time of John and Jesus, there is a great deal of confusion about the role of the chosen-yet-conquered people of God. John gains the trust of many, and he reinvigorates an identity and focus for them.

While his main task is to point people to Jesus, he generates certain expectations of what Jesus will accomplish and how. John even has a group of disciples who are ready to move in support of Jesus’ upcoming cosmic display of authority. The problem is that Jesus is taking too long. John has a lot riding on being right about Jesus, but now he is wondering if he was wrong.