“When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Matthew 11:2-3 NIV)
He had been sent with those from John,
to ask this Y’shua, once and for all,
to finally proclaim himself:
was he or was he not the promised one?
And they had gotten their answer, such as it was,
“the lame walk, the blind see, the sick are healed,
the deaf hear, the dead are raised,
the good news is preached to the poor.
Blessed is he who does not stumble over me.”
More, he had seen the man for himself,
sat at his feet with his disciples and listened,
followed him about for several days,
in and out of one town after another, seen, indeed,
a few miracles of healing with his own eyes,
and now, on the journey back to John,
he found himself weighing the evidence
in the balance of his mind.
On one side you had John,
a miracle child by all accounts,
born to a priestly family, born by the direct
intervention of God long after he had
closed his mother’s womb—
his father, by his own testimony,
struck dumb during the pregnancy
for his lack of faith,
his mother all but a martyr
to carry a baby at her age—
and John himself: the holy hermit,
living in the wilderness on locust and wild honey,
dressing animal skins,
standing for the righteousness of God,
speaking boldly against Herod and Rome alike,
demanding of all people, regardless,
repentance, and a cleansing from their sins.
And on the other side, this Y’shua.
If rumor was true, born in sin,
conceived while his mother was yet betrothed,
and the supposed father, this Joseph,
the carpenter, denying all responsibility,
yet caving in and taking the woman to his bed—
a difficult child;
there was that incident of his strange behavior
at the temple at his first sacrifice,
and now, a man who went about,
openly, with women in his train,
who discussed the things of God with them
(who lived off them, if stories were true).
A man who ate with sinners,
tax collectors and worse.
A man who broke the Sabbath at will,
healing, even, they said,
allowing his disciples to prepare food,
to eat with unwashed hands,
encouraging them to go about
the countryside stirring up trouble,
idle, expecting others to feed them.
It was a scandal.
And this was the same man who had come,
as lesser to the greater,
to John for baptism along with all the others.
A carpenter in the line of David,
not a Levite at all to claim
the duties of a priest or a prophet.
Feeding the crowds at one moment,
and then driving them away with impossible words
about eating his flesh and drinking his blood.
Attending weddings, drinking wine,
laughing with children wherever he went,
claiming, some said, to be God.
Where did it end?
Silent on the sins of Rome and Herod,
but vocal in his condemnation
of the Pharisees and Sadduces who held,
at least in their own eyes,
the hope of Israel in their hands.
Certainly God would not do something
so outrageous as to make this Y’shua his messiah?
And yet, John himself seemed unsure,
seemed all but ready to follow
if this Y’shua would only proclaim himself.
What was a man to believe? W
here was the balance of the mind?
More the point,
where was the balance of his heart?
What would he believe, how would he feel,
if he had been one of those blind men to receive his sight,
one of those cripples to walk,
one of those dead to rise?
More to the point, was he?
Did he dare to be?