When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offence at me.’ As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: ‘What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written, “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.” Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
“Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” These are the words on the lips of John the Baptist from the confines of a prison cell. At first, these words seem unsettling. John knew Jesus – how could he ask this?
In prison now, John is no longer baptizing in the River Jordan or having people come to him. John finds himself in a new desert. After living a life of freedom, he has now entered confinement. From the open wilderness to captivity and with a drastic change of circumstances also comes a drastic change of perspective. Does his question come from true curiosity or disappointment? Is it from doubt or speculation, or could it be asked as a question of trust? We may never know his motive, but the question remains significant for all of us today.
“Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” is the question at the heart of Advent, as we live in a season of anticipation. We, too, find ourselves in the confinement of our limited imaginations about God. We long and hope dearly, but sometimes wonder if the promises given to us by God could really ever come. When the odds are stacked against us and we are up against the wall, this is a question that rings true to us. When we ponder this question in whatever circumstance we are in, we must recognize that it is rooted in a deep longing for the things to come. In this longing, we maintain hope, the hope of what could be and the faith that God is in the businesses of keeping his promises.
 How can circumstances change your perspective and the questions you ask? How have you preserved hope?
 When was a time in your life when you could relate to John’s question? How can we use this question during Advent to re-center ourselves on the hope of God’s promises?