On Tuesday morning the pastors of Lutheran Saints in Ministry gather in Fairborn Ohio to discuss the texts for Sunday.

These are the contributions that are brought to the table.

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Readings for the 4th Sunday of Advent 2016, December 25

First Reading: Isaiah 7:10-16

10The Lord spoke to Ahaz, saying, 11Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven. 12But Ahaz said, I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test. 13Then Isaiah said: “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary mortals, that you weary my God also? 14Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel. 15He shall eat curds and honey by the time he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. 16For before the child knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land before whose two kings you are in dread will be deserted.”

Psalm: Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19

 1 Hear, O Shepherd of Israel, leading Joseph like a flock; 
    shine forth, you that are enthroned upon the cherubim.

2 In the presence of Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh, 
    stir up your strength and come to help us.

3 Restore us, O God of hosts; 
    show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.

4 O LORD God of hosts, 
    how long will you be angered
    despite the prayers of your people?

5 You have fed them with the bread of tears; 
    you have given them bowls of tears to drink.

6 You have made us the derision of our neighbors, 
    and our enemies laugh us to scorn.

7 Restore us, O God of hosts; 
    show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.

16 Let your hand be upon the man of your right hand, 
    and son of man you have made so strong for yourself.

17 And so will we never turn away from you; 
    give us life, that we may call upon your Name.

18 Restore us, O LORD God of hosts; 
    show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.

Second Reading: Romans 1:1-7

1Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, 3the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4and was declared to be Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for the sake of his name, 6including yourselves who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,
7To all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints: 
  Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Gospel: Matthew 1:18-25

18Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. 20But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
23“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
  and they shall name him Emmanuel,”

which means, “God is with us.”24When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, 25but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.

Matthew 1:18-25

Greek Study Matthew 1:18-25

In this passage Matthew recounts the story of the birth of Jesus, and this as the result of a supernatural act of God. Jesus is not only the son of David, but he is also the Son of God.  In 1:18-25 Matthew deals with Jesus' origin and name. The focus is on Joseph; Mary remains incidental to the story. He relates how Joseph comes to marry Mary, someone already pregnant, and how through this marriage Jesus is included in the Davidic line. The story explains the origins of Jesus and how he was named. The ‘virgin birth’ is accepted by Matthew without question. 

1:18   ουτως adv. "how" expressing manner. The sense is general not pointing to the event of the birth itself.
Μαριας (α) gen. "Mary" in apposition to "mother".
τω/ Ιωσηφ dat. "to Joseph" – a dative of direct object after the verb μνηστευθεισης, "being engaged." Betrothal was as good as marriage in Jewish society. Mary, having gotten pregnant apart from Joseph, could suffer stoning had not Joseph acted on her behalf.
μνηστευθεισης (μνηστευω) gen. aor. pas. part. "was pledged to be married". a genitive absolute construction and temporal clause, so "when his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph".
πριν η  "before" - another temporal clause indicating action of the verb συνελθειν (συνερχομαι) aor. inf. "came together" so; "just before their marriage".
ευρεθη (ευρισκω) aor. pas. "she was found" – or "she discovered she was εν γαστρι εχουσα " with child" – an idiomatic phrase; literally "having in the womb" or as we would say "pregnant".
εκ + gen. "through" - the intended sense may be "from, out of",. Luke handles this fact with a little more sensitivity which likely reveals more of a cultural difference between Luke’s and Matthew’s communities than anything theological.
ων (ειμι) pres. part. "because ...... was" - The participle of the verb to-be is adverbial and 
best taken to introduce a causal clause, as NIV.
ο ανηρ (ηρ ρος) "[her] husband" - in apposition to "Joseph". As noted above, this is as good as being married.
δικαιος adj. "a righteous/law abiding" man.  Joseph was someone who did what was right, a man who complies with the law. The fact that the law required him to divorce her (before two witnesses) and didn't indicates he is merciful as well as “just”.  These are OT divine qualities. Joseph here is acting as an agent for Yahweh.
μη θελων (θελω) pres. part. "he did not wantδειγατισαι (δειγματιζω) aor. inf. "public disgrace" - he was unwilling to bring shame upon her. 
απολυσαι (απολυω) aor. inf. "to divorce/destroy" – a dependent statement of perception expressing what Joseph had in mind not to do.
λαθρα adv. "quietly" - in-house "privately" is closer than "quietly".

  v20  ενθυμηθεντος (ενθυνομαι) aor. part. "after he had considered " – as he was 
reflecting; the genitive absolute participial construction forms a temporal clause. Possibly as a direct statement expressing completed action; "he had resolved or made up his mind to do this".
κυριου (ος) gen. "[an angel] of the Lord" - possessive, "the Lord's angel" or ablative "an angel from the Lord."
εφανη (φαινομαι) aor. "appeared".
κατα "in [a dream]" - expressing means; a phrase used by Matthew for divine revelation.
λεγων (λεγω) pres. part. "and said" – angels are messengers so they speak.  
μη φοβηθης (φοβεομαι) aor. subj. "do not be afraid" and there is is again, one of the central messages of bothteh Old and New Testaments.  "Fear" in the sense of "do not hesitate", "do not shrink from" παραλαβειν (παραλαμβανω) inf. "to take [Mary] home" to lead her into his household. Joseph need not fear of taking Mary as his wife, this referring to the marriage custom of a man taking a women into his home as a sign of their union.
γεννηθεν (γενναω) aor. pas. part. "what is conceived/generated/begun [in her]" - the participle is adjectival, "for the child which is conceived in her."
τεξεται (τικτω) fut. "she will give birth
καλεσεις (καλεω) sing. fut. "you are to give to/call" an imperatival future. "You should give him the name Jesus."  The Hebrew name "Jesus" means "Yahweh of salvation", in Greek rendered "Joshua". In Hebrew, the word "Jesus" actually sounds like "he will save". σωσει (σωζω) fut. "will save/rescue/set free" or for the whole clause, "redeem/forgive".
τωϖ αμαρτιων (α) "sins" - "miss the mark", used in the LXX and NT for offences against God.
ολον (ος) "all/whole/entire/complete” γεγονεν (γινομαι) perf. "took place".
   ινα + subj. "so that" - a purpose clause; 
πληρωθη/ (πληροω) aor. subj. "fulfill/complete”; the promises made by Yahweh through the prophets.
το ρηθεν (λεγω) aor. pas. part. "the thing/matter being spoken [by Lord]”. 
δια + gen. "through" - by means of the prophets.
λεγοντος (λεγω) gen. pres. part. "-" - saying. The participle may be treated as adverbial, temporal, genitive in agreement with "prophet"; "when he said."

v23   η παρθενος (ος) "the virgin" - young woman who has not participated in sexual intercourse. (The Greek word may be used of a sexually active young woman, but is normally used of a virgin while the Hebrew word used in Isaiah 7:14 simply means a young woman of marriageable age. Regardless Isaiah is speaking of a birth which serves as a sign to the people.
εν γραστπι εξει "will conceive" - having in the womb (see v18 for this idiomatic phrase).
καλεσουσιν (καλεω) sing. fut. "they will call [him]" - they will call [the name of him]. Isaiah has the singular "ye will call", indicating Matthew's shift to the fellowship of believers who affirm the name of Jesus.
Εμμανουηλ − in Hebrew this means "prosperity", comes from God being with a person. εστιν μεθερμηνευομενον (μεθερμηνευω) pres. pas. part. "[which] means" - [which] having been interpreted, translated. An idomatic paraphrastic present construction, "[which] being translated means"; "for that name means God is with us", Barclay.
μεθ (μετα) + gen. "with" - Expressing association. The sense is either: In Jesus "God is with us", or his name is "God with us.
δε  but transitional, so "now".
εγερθεις (εγειρω) pas. part. "when [Joseph] arose/woke up".
ως "as/like” a comparative; "he did as the angel of the Lord commanded."
αυτου gen. pro. "he [took] Mary [home as his wife]" - [he took the wife] of him. The genitive is adjectival, relational.
ουκ εγινωσκεν (γινωσκω) imperf. "he had no union with/did not consummate the 
marriage/did not know” a euphemism for sexual relations.
εως + gen. "until" rendered "before", although the sense is probably "until after she gave birth." This phrase is concerned with the period before the birth and not what happened after (i.e. it does NOT promote the perpetual virginity of Mary).

εκαλεσεν (καλεω) aor. "he gave [him the name]

The most incredible thing always turns out to be true

Das Tollste ist immer war - Goethe 

Yes, there were rituals in the Old Testament world that sound like odd forerunners of the witch hunts of the middle ages, Number 5:11-31 - how to divine whether your wife is cheating - is one of those texts. Deuteronomy 22:13-21 - how to prove that your wife was a virgin -  is another text that reminds us that the times and places we consider in the bible are often ever so different from our own. Deuteronomy 22:23-24 - about the treatment of rape victims - well - it just sounds downright bizarre like tales from the conservative middle eastern world that offend us even today. Everyone gets stoned to death because the woman does not scream though she was in the city and could have been heard. And if she is found with child, and survives all the questions and tests and so on, then the child is actually someone else’s child and Joseph cannot just take someone else’s as his own without the father giving specific, ritual permission to do so. The biological father has the right to child and woman somehow if the family agrees. It makes modern love, as weird as it has become, seem downright - normal . . . ?
All these bizarre texts are swirling through the mind of Joseph. He lives in a world where marriage was political, tribal, truly an all family affair. Consenting adults are not who make marriages in biblical times and tribal cultures. Families make arrangements, the marriage partners follow along, new children will be born into the family, hopefully sons who will help the family “contend at the gate.” (Ps 127:5) As Goethe says: The most incredible tales always turn out to be true somehow.
But Joseph is not the first modern either. He is certainly just as much part of his culture as the next guy. Yet, unlike the man in Numbers 5, he is not burning with anger or jealousy. He is calm and he wants to do the gracious and right thing. That, he has determined, is to let the family of Mary take charge of the matter. A new arrangement with the true father of the child can be made and Mary can become that man’s wife. Joseph will not step on the other man’s rights and he will be a gentleman about the whole thing and go away honorably. Little does he know in the evening  that the “other” is non other than God.
In the scheme of the story, what happens in his dream is that God, the true father of Jesus, gives consent needed for Joseph to “take possession" of Mary and therefore of Jesus. The righteous man, Joseph, is not presuming to take what is not his but receives it. In a bit of subtlety, he “receives” Mary but the right to name the child is not his. He is given instruction on what the name shall be. For him, who had this dream, his parentage, his ownership, for children were property, will always be one of guardian, but he accepts it.
As we look about in the chapter we notice that this text is introduced by the genealogies of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham. These are the “begats” that include Tamar, Rahab, and Ruth. In a subtle way Joseph’s parentage is left ambiguous in this list. He is listed not as the “father of” as all the others but instead is listed as: “the husband of Mary of whom Jesus was born who is called Christ.” The list is also historical. It starts with Abraham and traces the history of Israel down to Joseph. Luke goes the other way and works his way backward to Adam and ultimately God, the way most of us might tell our heritage. It is as if Matthew is reporting something different from the mundane bookkeeping of parentage. That parentage would not really matter since Jesus’ pedigree is really the Holy Ghost, but then that is complicated. No, for Matthew, somehow, it is the people and their story that matter, hence the asides of Ruth, Rahab and Tamar. They share with Joseph the byname: Guardian of Jesus, the byname bestowed on St. Joseph in the hagiography of the church. 
These, as a people, stand as the guardians. It should not surprise us then that a prophecy of that people is recalled immediately: Therefore the LORD himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel. (Is 7:14) It is a piece of the puzzle, this verse that Matthew quotes. The subtle changes from the Hebrew text to the Gospel according to Matthew ought not concern us. As guardians of the word, not curators who jealously try to maintain antiseptic exactness and singularity of purpose, no, as guardians of the words of Isaiah, the words have been re-received as cherished prophecy rediscovered by permission of the Holy Ghost. Jesus fits into these people and into this prophecy seamlessly.
Joseph is the embodiment of this cloud of guardians and their entire history. There is many things he can think. We only know what he does. He takes the matter into his hands as the dream suggested to him. But, he could think Numbers 5 but does not. He could think of Hezekiah and reject the applicability of Isaiah’s prophecy but he instead he receives it as fresh and new. He could think the whole thing crazy and shake the dream off at dawn and agonize that day over his decision yet to be made alone, buried deeply in his own thoughts and demons.

This is good time to ask ourselves: What would I do? To make it closer to home, maybe the question should be extended: How am I disposed toward God: am I demanding my rights in anger, do I keep prophecy safely in the past lest it interfere with my life, and preclude that the Holy Ghost might actually make himself known? This Jesus and his story: how do I fit into the cloud of guardians? Christ is not mine to claim: how do I receive him? 
In Advent, the coming of the Kingdom is the heart of the liturgical season’s message. This kingdom, will I meet it in anger over the wrongs that the world has done me? This kingdom prophesied by the Holy Ghost through the prophets, will I meet it at all or have I already dismissed prophecy  concerning it outright? This kingdom: do I yet look for signs of it or am I sure that such things do not happen? This kingdom, what quality guardian am I to the story of it? This kingdom, how will I receive it? 

Das Tollste ist immer war — the most incredible tales always turn out to be true somehow. This tale of Joseph is one of those incredible tales and the outcome of Jesus’ life gives proof to it. Our Faith gives proof that Joseph got it right. Will we have faith in the incredible tale of the advent of the kingdom?

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Readings for the 3rd Sunday of Advent, 2016, December 11

First Reading: Isaiah 35:1-10

1The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,
  the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
 like the crocus 2it shall blossom abundantly,
  and rejoice with joy and singing.
 The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
  the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
 They shall see the glory of the Lord,
  the majesty of our God.

3Strengthen the weak hands,
  and make firm the feeble knees.
4Say to those who are of a fearful heart,
  “Be strong, do not fear!
 Here is your God.
  He will come with vengeance,
 with terrible recompense.
  He will come and save you.”

5Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
  and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
6then the lame shall leap like a deer,
  and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.
 For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,
  and streams in the desert;
7the burning sand shall become a pool,
  and the thirsty ground springs of water;
 the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp,
  the grass shall become reeds and rushes.

8A highway shall be there,
  and it shall be called the Holy Way;
 the unclean shall not travel on it,
  but it shall be for God’s people;
  no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray.
9No lion shall be there,
  nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;
 they shall not be found there,
  but the redeemed shall walk there.
10And the ransomed of the Lord shall return,
  and come to Zion with singing;
 everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
  they shall obtain joy and gladness,
  and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Psalm: Psalm 146:5-10

4 Happy are they who have the God of Jacob for their help! 
    whose hope is in the LORD their God;

5 Who made heaven and earth, the seas, and all that is in them; 
    who keeps his promise for ever;

6 Who gives justice to those who are oppressed, 
    and food to those who hunger.

7 The LORD sets the prisoners free;
the LORD opens the eyes of the blind; 
    the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down;

8 The LORD loves the righteous;
the LORD cares for the stranger; 
    he sustains the orphan and widow,
    but frustrates the way of the wicked.

9 The LORD shall reign for ever, 
    your God, O Zion, throughout all generations.

Second Reading: James 5:7-10

7Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. 8You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. 9Beloved, do not grumble against one another, so that you may not be judged. See, the Judge is standing at the doors! 10As an example of suffering and patience, beloved, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.

Gospel: Matthew 11:2-11
2When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples 3and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” 4Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5the 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. 6And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”
7As 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? 8What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. 9What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10This is the one about whom it is written, 
 ‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
  who will prepare your way before you.’

11Truly 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.”

Matthew 11:2-11, Greek Text Study

Greek Study Matthew 11:2-11 – Advent 3

v2 ακουσας (ακουω) aor. part. "when [John ....] heard" εν + dat. "in [prison]
του Χριστου (ος) τα εργα (ον) "what [Christ] was doing" - the works = "miracles." John has heard about the miracles and wonders whether Jesus is the Christ. This is a rather bold statement on John’ part, he serves the function here of prosecutor, but right or wrong, he is the first doubter!
πεμψας (πεμπω) aor. part. "he sent" i.e. he asked some of his disciples to go to Jesus to find out about him.

v3 ειπεν (ειπον οραω) aor. "to ask" It is John's question, relayed through his disciples.
συ "[are] you" an emphatic.
ο ερχομενος (ερχομαι) pres. part. "the one coming” this has to be an acknowledged title, otherwise it makes no sense.  Jesus who has obviously come, cannot still be coming.
προσδοκωμεν (προσδοκαω) sub. "should we wait for” a deliberative subjunctive, “Do we have to wait for someone else?" The "we" obviously means " Jews", not "we disciples of John."
ετερον pro. "someone else" the sense is either a different messiah, or a messiah with different characteristics.

v4 αποκριθεις (αποκρινομαι) part. "answering ... [he said] a common Semitic construction in the NT.
πορευθεντες (πορευομαι) aor. pas. part. "going" - an imperative and so the attendant circumstance participle is also read as an imperative; "go and report".
α ακουετε και βλεπετε "what you hear and see" – i.e. words and works of Jesus. 

v5 αναβλεπουσιν (αναβλεπω) pres. "receive sight" – literally “look up again” The prefix adds the sense of "again", so the proper translation is "people who are blind see again." not "all blind people will see." This means that they who had sight, and lost it, will have it restored. NT theology dealt with blind from birth as a parental failing (cf. Jn. 8).
ευαγγελιζονται pres. pas. "the good news is proclaimed to" πτωχοι adj. "the poor" – literally “the abject poor, beggars, those who have nothing”. Only "leper" in this list is a noun, the rest are adjectives serving as nouns (interestingly, the poor remain poor!)

v6 μακαριος adj. "blessed" declaration of a favored status before God. 
μη σκανδαλισθη (σκανδαλιζω) pas. sub. "does not take offence” – remember that for the early church (and Judaism) there was a scandal at the heart of faith, for both the manner of his death, and for Christians in particular the scandal of being social outcasts.

v7 τουτων ... πορευμενων (πορευομαι) gen. pres. part. "as John's disciples were leaving" - these ones were leaving, going. 
θεασασθαι (θεαομαι) aor. inf. "behold/ gaze upon” an idiom, because literally, it mean “look at in wonderment” and is an infinitive expressing purpose, "in order to see"; "When you went out into the wilderness in order to see the prophet John, what did you expect to actually see?" This is a somewhat rare usage.

v8 αλλα "if not" – a strong adversative: if not "a reed then what?” or “If not that; then maybe this?”
ιδειν (ειδον .. οραω) aor. inf. "to see" is the more common word, which mean literally “look at” here the infinitive is adverbial, final, expressing purpose; "in order to see."
ημφιεσμενον (αμφιεννυμι) perf. pas./mid. part. "dressed [in soft clothes]" another idiom, a ‘man in a $1000 silk suit!”
οι .... φορουντες (φορεω) part. "those wearing" μαλακα adj. "fine clothes" (soft raiment) i.e. silk των βασιλεων (ευς εως) gen. "kings' [palaces]" possessive; as ‘befits a king’s abode”. So what kind of king then is Jesus?

v9 ιδειν (ειδον οραω) aor. inf. "to see" - infinitive is adverbial, final, expressing purpose; "in order to see."
περισσοτερον (περισσος) adj. comp. "more" - means "more than sufficient", so the Baptist is someone greater than προφητου (ης ου) gen. "a prophet" (not THE prophet).

v10 From Mal.3:1 influenced by Ex.23:20. 
περι + gen. "about [whom]" γεγραπται (γραφω) perf. pas. "it is/has been written
κατασκευασει (κατασκευαζω) fut. "will prepare" – actually will equip. In the Malachi 3:1 quotation, Yahweh sends the messenger to prepare for his coming. Here, Jesus identifies himself with Yahweh and has John preparing for the coming of Messiah.
την οδον (ος) "way/road" a tip of the hat to both the Persian and Roman empires, the two greatest road builders in history.

v11 γυναικων (η) gen. "[born] of women" an idiom for "mortals".
μειζων (μεγας) comp. adj. "greater" but likelier “more important than" Ιωαννου.

δε "yet" ο μικροτερος (μικρος) comp. adj. "the least in importance, influence, power”. A comparative with superlative force, usually understood that John, with regard to his status in relation to the kingdom, is part of the old Testament witness and so doesn't share the same privileges as the NT witnesses, i. e. the disciples. But theologically this is nonsense, all throughout the Old Testament share in the fulfillment of the covenant promises of the Messiah and are properly members of the Kingdom with equal status. So why is this included and why, especially is it put into the mouth of Jesus as it does not resonate with the rest of his message!  I dunno, what do you think?

Crossing the river in the wrong direction

Demons have suitcases too. - Peter Kreeft (?)

Two questions are raised and not answered in our text today. John seems to be asking “Who are you,” Jesus seems to ask the crowd: “Who is John?” 
 Actually, both questions are a little more subtle. “Are you the one to come or shall we wait for another,” is John’s question. “What where you hoping to find in the wilderness,” was Jesus’ question. 
Let us ask Jesus’ question first: “What were you looking for in the wilderness?” John Pilch writes: “ . . . travel in antiquity was considered deviant behavior unless one had a specific reason like pilgrimage or coming out to hear a prophet.” (The Cultural World of Jesus, Sunday by Sunday, Cycle A, John J. Pilch, Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press. 1995. pp. 4-6.) They had done something extraordinary, these listeners of Jesus. They had, against common convention, gone on a journey into the nowheres at the edge of Israel, the Jordan River, the very boundary between wandering in the wilderness for generations and the “home” that is the promised land. They had, in spiritual terms, gone to the edge of the world and bathed in the boundary waters that mark that edge. That is quite a journey. 
Yet, John’s baptism at those very boundary waters, in a way, recommitted them to what was already in place. Israel entered through the Jordan waters into the land of promise. Were those who returned from the Jordan returning into new promises or old ones? He had not been a new Joshua, this John, if that is what they had hoped for, for now he was imprisoned. Jesus compares him to the return of Elijah from Malachi 4:4-6. (Matt 11:14) If so, then what would be the result? 

4 “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the decrees and laws I gave him at Horeb for all Israel.”
5 “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. 6 He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.”

If John was Elijah, then John was the return to the law of Moses and its faithful transmission from one generation to the next. Would a journey of many miles that ends in the same place satisfy the longing of the restless traveler? Would they really be satisfied with Elijah or were they secretly longing for Joshua? That which we are most afraid might be the right answer to our spiritual yearnings often is what greets us at the end of our journey of running away from that answer. 
But those who go seeking tend to run after that which might give them relief from the yearning in their spirit. In the process they will happily go after one thing after another. Play them a happy song they will not dance because it does not seem right, play them a dirge they will question where this is a time to mourn. (Matt 11:17) Give them a holy man in the dessert and they will run to the ends of the earth to find him but come home thinking he might just be mad.(Matt 11:18) Let the Messiah come to them unexpected and unbidden and let him draw near to them in spite of their being tax collectors and sinners and they will wonder about his sense of propriety. (Matt 11:19) 
This kind of running about is the Dark Night of the Senses. It is the demand that the world of the spirit somehow “pay off” for the seeker. These type of journeys are really about the seeker. They are about the rest or fulfillment they think they are seeking and not about the Lord who holds this rest. These type of journeys end in endless restlessness or demoralized giving-up. It is the act of spiritually crossing Jordan in the wrong direction, out of the Holy Land and into the land of wandering. 
Hearts are not at rest until they rest in God. (Augustine) Jesus invites the crowd to enter that rest. (Matt 11:28) How does one do this? The Apology uses this verse to say this:

For Christ says, Matt. 11:28: Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Here there are two members. The labor and the burden signify the contrition, anxiety, and terrors of sin and of death. To come to Christ is to believe that sins are remitted for Christ's sake; when we believe, our hearts are quickened by the Holy Ghost 45] through the Word of Christ. Here, therefore, there are these two chief parts, contrition and faith. (Ap. VIIA) 

There is no rest until one finds remission of sin for the yearning and longing that are themselves a sign of being conscious of one’s sin. That forgiveness ends the frantic search.
John is the greatest of those seeking the new and finding the old. (Matt 11:11) He has caught on to the matter of needing to repent. Yet, in the Gospel of Matthew we must note that the forgiveness of sin is tied to the cup. (Matt 26:28) John’s baptism is only for repentance. 
Is John satisfied with his journey? His question: “Are you the one who is to come,” suggests that, maybe, he is not. Will Jesus’s answer, cobbled together out of Isaiah passages (26:19; 29:18; 35:5-6; 42:18; 61:1-2) be enough for him? (Matt 11:5-6) It is a somewhat  unsatisfying answer. Is Jesus the messiah that the Psalms of Solomon (1st cent BC) talked about? The military mighty one? John will certainly not by his own reason or strength come to believe in his lord or come to him just from the words of Isaiah. (SC) But, the Small Catechism continues, the Holy Spirit calls through the Gospel and that Gospel is about the forgiveness of sin. (Ap II.5)

The pilgrimages of the disciples of John where blessed but merely part of the old. The real pilgrimage needs to be a journey in place, a journey of readiness. Emmanuel comes unbidden and unannounced to the home and heart of every believer in the Holy Spirit who goes where it will when time is propitious to do so. If anything, the words of Jesus in the context of today’s reading, are a call to not be drawn off by the tunes played by the children in marketplaces in the hope of easier answers than the one before us: Repent, the kingdom is near; believe the good News.