Perhaps having faith doesn’t mean what we think.

(Starting where I left off yesterday)

I need to be honest.

That’s not the kind of ending to that story that we want.

What we want is to have Jesus say, “And tell John that his faith will make him whole.”

Or “Tell John that the chains will fall off.”

Or “Tell John ‘God’s got this.’”

And like Peter, John’s chains will fall off and an angel will lead him out of the prison cell.

Or like Paul, there will be an earthquake and the prison doors will open.

Jesus didn’t do that.

Jesus said, “Tell John that I’m the one that he thinks I am.”

And John still dies.

And so we think, “of course. That figures.”

Thoughts and prayers, even from Jesus, didn’t save John, didn’t end the evil self-indulgent rule of Herod, didn’t stop Roman oppression.


In the weeks after John’s death, as Jesus is still grieving, all Jesus’s crowds leave, too. In a moment in Capernaum, with just the disciples around him, Jesus says, “Are you going to leave, too?”

And Peter says, “Where else would we go?”

“Where else would we go? You have the words of eternal life. You are the holy one from God.”


We hear Peter’s words as an affirmation of faith.

We think, “if only we had faith like Peter.”

We tell ourselves and each other, “You need to have faith. You need to believe. This will get better. Dad will get better.”

Here’s the reason for joy today.

John’s faith did not make him well. John’s questions were understandable, his resolve was strengthened, but his faith, in a sense, made him dead.

So God’s work in our lives, God’s conversations with us, the presence of Jesus then and now, does not depend on how much we tell ourselves we have faith.

God’s work in our lives, God’s conversations with us, the presence of Jesus then and now depends on God.


From Matthew 11:2-22. And my third Sunday of Advent message at the hospital.