The One Who Is to Come?

The following vocal ministry was offered during worship on June 12, 1994 and recorded afterwards in my journal.

The Synoptic tradition relates that when Jesus was asked by disciples of the imprisoned John the Baptist, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?”1 he did not give a direct “yes” or “no” answer. Nor did he quote scripture or words of religious figures from the past, or appeal to inspiration, vocation, or a divine commission (which many readers, perhaps unaware that the gospel books are composite documents, might expect him to do, given the Synoptic version of his baptism). He pointed to his praxis, his deeds of compassion and liberation:

…the blind recover their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are made clean, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, the poor receive good news — and blessed are they who do not find me a stumbling-block.2

The gospel book of John is outside of the Synoptic tradition, and the more exalted Jesus presented there differs greatly from the Jesus of the Synoptics. Nonetheless, the Johannine Jesus, too, points to the testimony of deeds — his and ours. In the discourse that includes “In my Father’s house are many dwelling places,” he says these words:

What I say to you, I say not from myself, and it is the Father who lives in me who does the works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else trust me because of the works themselves. In truth, in truth I tell you, whoever trusts in me will do such deeds and even greater, for I am going now to my Father.3

The implications of this are, I think, clear and compelling. To paraphrase George Fox: Friends, we know what the Jesus of the gospel books says, but what can we say? Are we the ones who are to come, or must the suffering world look for others?


NOTES
[1] Mt 11:3; Lk 7:19.
[2] Mt 11:5-6.
[3] Jn 14:10b-12. (For clarity’s sake, I have somewhat modified the rendering of the passage from what is recorded in the journal.)

6 thoughts on “The One Who Is to Come?

    • That’s pretty much what happened, Duncan, except that other Friends may have spoken during that meeting, too: I don’t remember and didn’t make a note in the journal entry (which may mean that no one else spoke; some entries have such notes). Nor do I remember how many people were there, but, given the year, I’m thinking that 50 to 60 might be a good guess.

      • I’ve only been to one meeting at the Meeting House in Manchester city centre , there was a vase with a few daffodils in it on the cheap table, everybody was wearing cheap clothes, I remember feeling very uncomfortable and self-conscious. One person said something in the whole hour but the conversation and atmosphere improved greatly after the actual meeting over tea and biscuits … this was in 1989 … I doubt if it still exists. Do you think early Quaker meetings would have been more, erm, ‘animated’?

  1. A meeting could go either way — or somewhere in between. Conversation, though, is different from vocal ministry and should be reserved for tea-and-biscuit time, but even that’s not always the case.

  2. Thank you for this mornings writing it reminds me of two sayings. One is that I no longer live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me. The other is about Christ having no feet on earth but mine. Peace and love to you all. Brother Peter.

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