When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they...
I don’t really know anyone who likes to wait. Sure, there are really tolerant people who don’t mind waiting, but I don’t see them hanging out at the DMV or grocery checkout just to feel fulfilled.
However, we have learned along the journey from childhood to adulthood to be pretty patient under most circumstances. I remember as a child having to wait in the car with my big sister for twenty whole minutes while Mom did some Christmas shopping without us kids. Twenty minutes to me might as well have been four hours. I bet to her, though, it was like twenty seconds! But adult perspective empowers us to wait when we know something good is coming. We know it will be worth it.
But, where we revert back to our earlier tendencies is when we think things ought to go a certain way, but they don’t. Or, at least they don’t look like they’ll pan out. At those times, the temptation to throw in the towel can be far too great. I am reminded of a passage of the New Testament where John the Baptizer is in prison, and the expectations he had for Jesus have not really begun to pop. After all, Jesus has been doing miracles, traveling the countryside, was baptized and anointed by the Holy Spirit, and… well, that’s it. Israel is still under Roman rule. People are still estranged from God. The poor are still poor. John knows that God is going to do something about all this, but he wants to cover his bases. So, he says, “Are you the guy, or are we… still… waiting?”
Now Jesus, in His amazing grace… doesn’t give a straight answer. Instead, he appeals to two things in his response: John’s knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures, and his faith. “Basically, cousin John, people are being healed, and the gospel is being preached. What do you think?”
You see, in Deuteronomy 18 Moses predicted that God would raise up a prophet like him from among the Israelites to speak in God’s name. Jesus fulfilled that prophecy. And in what ways was Jesus like Moses? Ancestrally, He was an Israelite. He spoke for God the Father. And He performed wonders before His people. In His response to John, Jesus expected John to make that Scriptural connection. But He also expected Him to respond with faith. This great future fulfillment of all prophecy and restoration of Israel was just that: future. John might not live to see it (and indeed, he did not), but he had to trust that it was true, because he knew the character of the One who promised it.
So, this faith, this hope for eternity, was bigger than John’s experience. And it was difficult because he couldn’t see it happening. But the apostle Paul contextualizes this: “… hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?” (Romans 8:24).
I’ve done a lot of waiting lately. And sometimes it’s a lonely affair… and I feel like I am the only one. But Scripture and history assure me that many more faithful people than I can imagine have waited on God and found out this truth: God is always at work among us, and always inviting us to join Him. Do we always see the results right away? Do we sometimes never see the results? But we know the character of the One who promises, and it’s so exciting when we do get glimpses behind the scenes of how He’s using us.
I’m going to make the most of the time while I’m waiting…
(Be sure to also check out the original video of “While I’m Waiting” by John Waller.)