What We Want and What We Need l Luke 7:18-35 l Chapel Hill Church Gig Harbor
Every month I get to share a meal with our seniors’ ministry—Cornerstones. The meal is delicious, and the portion sizes are generous. Every month I have the same debate … should I eat it all, or leave some? Should I get a dessert, or should I leave it? This debate was heightened this month, because our board of elders—the Session—chose the day of the Cornerstones dinner as a day of fasting and prayer. So, I fasted all day long and planned to break my fast with the Cornerstones dinner. So, on this particular day I was ravenous.
And so, I consumed. A large plate of chicken and veggies and potatoes and salad and a bread roll with some honey butter. And then I went and got brownie and sorbet. And to say I was full would be an understatement. After a day of fasting, I had satisfied all my desires in one fell swoop. And then I bore the consequences. I sat through our Session fatigued and with indigestion. And to cap it off, I was awoken at 1am with the worst acid reflux. To say that I regret eating all that food is an understatement. But you can bet your bottom dollar that next month I’ll do it all over again!
There is a difference between what we want and what we need, right? In this instance, I needed to eat something; I’d been fasting all day. But what I wanted was to eat everything in sight. And I bore the consequences of satisfying my wants, rather than just my needs. There is a difference between what we want and what we need. Today, we’re going to see that this applies on an even greater scale.
My name is Ellis and I’m one of the pastors here. And you’re joining us as we continue working through Luke’s gospel—one of the four accounts of Jesus’ life. Last week Pastor Mark recounted Jesus’ healing of a centurion’s servant, and subsequently, Jesus goes on to raise a young man from the dead. Jesus’ works have been truly remarkable. But they weren’t necessarily what some people thought Jesus needed to be doing.
Many of you will remember John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin. John was a man sent by God to prepare the way for Jesus. He preached a fire and brimstone message: repent or die! He told people that the Messiah, or the Christ, this long-awaited king of Israel, was going to come and clear house. He said back in chapter 3 verse 17:
“His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” (Luke 3:17 ESV)
John said that the Christ, who he believed was Jesus, was going to bring fire and judgment on the world, and John had been sent to prepare the people for this coming judgment. John went on to preach this message to king Herod and, sadly, it landed him in jail. And as John is in jail, word comes to him of the works that Jesus is doing, and he has a question about it. Here’s what we read in Luke 7, and if you want to grab a Bible you can follow along. We’re beginning in verse 18:
“The disciples of John reported all these things to him. And John, calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”” (Luke 7:18–19 ESV)
Now this question might seem a little surprising coming from John. John had so clearly proclaimed Jesus as the Christ, or the one who is to come. John had told everyone, “This is he of whom I [spoke]… I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:30a, 34 ESV). John clearly proclaimed that Jesus was the one they had all been waiting for. But now, he’s doubting. He sent messengers to Jesus who asked, “Are you really the one I preached about?”
Now, perhaps, John was simply in a low spot. He’s in prison, not sure if he will ever be released. But, I think, in line with Jim Edwards, a retired professor from Whitworth University, that it is much more likely that John was puzzled why Jesus hadn’t begun his works of judgment. John had preached that Jesus was going to separate the wheat from the chaff and burn the chaff. But all Jesus seemed to be doing was going around proclaiming good news and healing the sick. This didn’t seem like the Jesus that John was expecting. And Jesus’ response to John’s messengers only compounds this. Here’s what Luke records in verses 21-23:
“In that hour he [Jesus] healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight. And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receives their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”” (Luke 7:21–23 ESV).
Jesus, in effect, responds to John and says, “Yes, I’m the one who is to come. Look at the works I’m doing.” And he proceeds in that very hour to heal many people and then list out the things that are happening because of his ministry. This, in fact, mirrors many of the Old Testament prophecies of the…