From the Word
2 Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples 3 and said to him, “Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 4 And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. 6 And blessed is he who takes no offense at me.”
Matthew 11:2–6, RSV
The disciples of John had learned from him many excellent testimonies concerning Christ, that he was the Lamb of God and the Son of God, that Christ must increase while he must decrease. All this his disciples and the people did not believe, nor could they understand it, as they and all the people thought more of John than of Christ. Consequently they clung so closely to John, that for his sake they became jealous of Christ and were dissatisfied with him, when they saw that he also baptized and drew the people to himself.
To this error they are led for two reasons. First, Christ was not yet known to the people, but only to John; neither had he yet performed any miracle. The second reason was that Christ appeared so humble, being the son of a carpenter and of a poor woman. He did not belong to the priesthood, nor to the learned, nor had he ever studied, but was only a layman and a common apprentice. Hence it seemed that the excellent testimony of John concerning Jesus of Nazareth did not at all seem true. They were looking for one who might appear in an imposing manner among them, or like a highly learned leader among the priests or like a mighty king. From this delusion John could not dissuade them.
But when Jesus began to perform miracles and became famous, John thought that he would direct his disciples from himself to Christ, that they might not establish a new sect and become Johnites, but might cling to Christ and become Christians. They must learn that the works and coming of Christ would not be attended by drums and bugles and the like worldly pomp, but by spiritual power and grace; that by virtue of such power and grace the dead would be raised up, the blind receive their sight, the deaf hear, and all kinds of bodily and spiritual evil be removed. This would be the coming and glory of this King, the least of whose works could not be performed by all the kings, all the learned and all the rich of the world.
Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 436–37.