The Coming One
Matt 11:2-7 And when John had heard in prison
about the works of Christ, he sent two of his
disciples and said to Him, "Are You the Coming
One, or do we look for another?" Jesus answered
and said to them, "Go and tell John the things
which you hear and see: The blind see and the
lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf
hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have
the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he
who is not offended because of Me."
"Are you the Coming One or do we look for another?"
John the Baptist's Question
In reading John's question it almost seems as though he was
confused about the identity of Jesus while he was
contemplating things in the prison at
This is a very interesting question posed by John, the
messenger and herald of the Messiah, who no doubt spent
countless hours examining the Scriptures concerning the One
to whom he was to point the people to, as well as the
Scriptures regarding himself, probably as it was with the
Essene sect at Qumran where history testifies in the Dead
Sea Scrolls of the smudging in the "messenger" texts of the
Isaiah Scroll (Isa 40:3 in the Bible).
John was no doubt certain
about Jesus' identity for he himself said "Behold the Lamb
of God who takes upon Himself the sins of the world" (Jn
1:29). A brief look into ancient customs and the Hebraic
backdrop of the time period can certainly help us to
understand this question.
Though Jesus condemned the traditions of the religious
leaders of His day, it is important to realize that all
tradition was not bad, for God was the Author of the Torah
Shebichtav, the written Law, and God was also the Author of
much of the Torah SheBa'al Peh, the oral law, traditions in
Judaism. It was when they put their traditions above the
written Word of God and misunderstood their significance
that Jesus made accusations. Tradition was a method, in
God's infinite wisdom, for Him to tie a "spiritually dead"
people to something that is spiritual, Himself. He
established feasts and festivals, prayers and holy days, and
many more traditions so that they would remember who it was
that they were in a marriage relationship with. Daily
reminders where they would have to realize that they were
connected to a living spiritual God. They were reminded
every day (morning and evening sacrifices), every week
(Sabbath), every month (new moons), every year (harvest
feasts), every 7 years (Sabbatical year), and every 50 years
Even when men went to the
bathroom they were reminded daily of the Covenant that God
cut with them through circumcision. Tradition was indeed an
essential ingredient that connected a physical people to a
God who was not of their 5 senses, until the day that
Messiah would come and breathe the Holy Spirit into them and
to all believers known as "the church" who would be not only
Jews, but gentiles as well, "born from above" as the
Hinting and Giving
According to ancient rabbinic
tradition there were various modes of interpretation for
understanding and teaching the Torah (Old Testament). The
most common was "Pardes," meaning "garden of the Torah,"
which was an acrostic for the four modes of interpreting the
Torah. The "R" consonant in Pardes stood for "remez" which
means "to hint at something obvious." For example when Jesus
referred to Himself as "the Son of Man," the remez
understanding would be that He was identifying Himself with
the apocalyptic Redeemer of Dan 7:13-14 where the Jewish
prophet Daniel spoke of a man called "the son of man" who
would be given an everlasting kingdom that would never pass
In fact just by saying "Son"
or "My Father" Jesus was making blatant statements about
Himself to anyone that was familiar with the Torah, since
words like "Son" are scattered throughout the entire Hebrew
Scriptures in identification with the Messiah.
Throughout the entire
ministry of Jesus he was fulfilling prophecy, in every Word
He spoke, every place He went, and every thing that He did.
There was nothing that Jesus said or did that was not in
direct fulfillment to some passage or Scripture in the
Hebrew Torah. Even when "He spat on the ground and made clay
of the spittle" He was literally screaming the message that
He was the first born Son of the Father according to
The Coming One
Many times Jesus would make
one statement and be quoting or hinting at four or five
different verses in the Old Testament, especially when He
was being attacked by the religious leaders, he would answer
their questions with another question or statement that
would allude to the Scriptures that they were presuming to
know so much about and following so closely. There are
numerous examples but for now we will examine John's
question and Jesus' response.
John sent his disciples to
ask Jesus, "are
you the coming one?" If
we examine the Old Testament we would find a multiplicity of
statements about the Messiah being regarded as "the coming
One" in Hebrew its "haba" which means "to come." One of the
most popular Messianic Scriptures where this word is used is
in one of the Psalms:
Ps 118:26 "Blessed is he
who comes in the name of the LORD!"
Another Scripture in the
Psalms that was regarded in Judaism as Messianic is in Psalm
40 where it contains the word "haba" spoken by Christ
Himself through David before Jesus was born:
Ps 40:6-8 Sacrifice and
offering You did not desire; My ears You have opened;
Burnt offering and sin offering You did not require. Then I
said, "Behold, I come; In the scroll of the book it is
written of me. I delight to do Your will, O my God, And Your
law is within my heart."
Another example is found in
the last book of our English Bible:
Mal 3:1 "Behold, I send My
messenger, And he will prepare the way before Me. And the
Lord, whom you seek, Will suddenly come to His temple, Even
the Messenger of the covenant, In whom you delight. Behold,
He is coming," Says the LORD of hosts.
The knowledge and expectation
of the "Coming One" was prevalent during the time of Christ
as we can see from a couple of examples:
John 6:14 "Then those men,
when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, "This is
truly the Prophet who is to come into the world."
John 11:25-27 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and
the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall
live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.
Do you believe this?" She said to Him, "Yes, Lord, I believe
that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into
Jesus Answers John the
One of the difficulties for
the rabbis in interpreting the Torah was that some of it
could really only be understood in the light of the New
Testament and the Holy Spirit's revelation to the church.
Many priests and prophets of the Old Testament were puzzled
with questions concerning the Messiah, since the Scriptures
were only filled with bits and pieces of a much larger
In Judaism there were
different streams of Messianic thought. There is good reason
for the confusion, since there are places in the Bible that
said Messiah would come and reign as king and others that
said Messiah would come and be rejected by His own people
and murdered as a criminal.
So John asks "are
you the Coming One or do we look for another?" Since
John the Baptist knew Jesus would lay down His life and die,
he was essentially asking whether or not Jesus was the same
person who will also come and set up a kingdom. I am sure
John was wondering also about his own fate since there is no
mention about the fate of Messiah's forerunner in the Old
Jesus answers the question
brought to him by John's disciples:
"Go and tell John the
things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame
walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead
are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them.
And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me."
It is interesting that Jesus
responded in this way. By hinting at many Old Testament
passages regarding the Messiah's first and second coming He
essentially answered the question and answered it entirely.
Lets look at a few of the verses that Jesus was hinting at:
Note: These are all passages
regarded in ancient Rabbinic Judaism as Messianic, and are
still held today in Jewish circles.
The Blind See and the Sick
Isa 29:18-19 "In that day
the deaf shall hear the words of the book, And the eyes of
the blind shall see out of obscurity and out of darkness.
The humble also shall increase their joy in the LORD, And
the poor among men shall rejoice In the Holy One of Israel.
Isa 35:4-6 "Strengthen the
weak hands, And make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who
are fearful-hearted, "Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your
God will come with vengeance, With the recompense of God; He
will come and save you." Then the eyes of the blind shall be
opened, And the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then
the lame shall leap like a deer, And the tongue of the dumb
sing. For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, And
streams in the desert."
Isa 42:6-8 6 "I, the LORD,
have called You in righteousness, And will hold Your hand; I
will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people, As a
light to the Gentiles, To open blind eyes, To bring out
prisoners from the prison, Those who sit in darkness from
the prison house. I am the LORD, that is My name; And My
glory I will not give to another."
The Poor have the Gospel
preached to them
Isa 61:1-2 "The Spirit of
the Lord GOD is upon Me, Because the LORD has anointed Me To
preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the
brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the
opening of the prison to those who are bound; To proclaim
the acceptable year of the LORD, And the day of vengeance of
Blessed is he
Ps 32:1-2 "Blessed is he
whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute
Who is not offended (stumble
or be ashamed) because of Me
Ps 118:22-26 "The stone
which the builders rejected has become the chief
cornerstone. This was the LORD's doing; It is marvelous in
our eyes. This is the day the LORD has made; We will rejoice
and be glad in it. Save now, I pray, O LORD; O LORD, I pray,
send now prosperity. Blessed is he who comes in the name of
Isa 28:16 "Therefore thus
says the Lord GOD: "Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a
foundation, A tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure
foundation; Whoever believes will not act hastily."
Isa 45:17 "But Israel
shall be saved by the LORD with an everlasting salvation;
You shall not be ashamed or disgraced Forever and ever."
These are just a few
examples. As I said, Jesus' whole life was a fulfillment of
what had been spoken about Him by the Lord through the Old
Testament prophets. Therefore, every word He spoke was
already spoken about Him.
I say with no hesitation that
that the study of Jesus' words and His life, to me, is more
rewarding than any other study, and any other pursuit in
Written by Rusty Russell
(Bible History Online)
Bibliography on Ancient Customs
The Art of Ancient Egypt, Revised
by Robins, 272 Pages, Pub. 2008
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