Matt 11:2-3 When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples to ask Him, "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?" NIV
This is an amazing question when you consider whom it was that was asking it. John the Baptist had recently been put in prison and was getting reports of all the miraculous things Jesus was doing. How was it then, that the man who baptized Jesus, who boldly stated, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world" and said about Him that He must increase while I decrease, was yet uncertain if Jesus was the Messiah or whether there would be one after Him. Remember, this was the man of whom Jesus said, “I say to you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John;” (Luke 7:28 NASU)
If we put ourselves in John’s place, I think we could understand his question. John knew his calling. He was to herald the coming of the foretold Messiah. He had done what God called him to do and now he was in prison. That is a tough place to be, especially for a man who had lived most of his life outdoors. I am sure he must have wondered why this was happening to him.
He was probably getting only limited reports on what Jesus was doing and this might be what caused his confusion. The message John was called to preach was, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matt 3:2 NASU) I believe that John thought, as most Jews did, that the kingdom he was speaking about, would be be set up on earth by the foretold Messiah. They hoped that this king would free them from the oppressive rule of Rome. John obviously believed that Jesus was the anointed one, so why was John in prison and why was Jesus just spending His time teaching and ministering to the poor and downtrodden? It was a legitimate question.
Jesus answers John in a beautiful way. He does not criticize John for his question. Instead he encourages him. Matt 11:4-6 Jesus replied, "Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me." NIV
Jesus tells John of the fulfillment of prophecy contained in Isa 61:1-2. What He is telling John is, that the Messiah will not set up His kingdom in the way that had been expected. The prophecies that they had focused on were not to be fulfilled at this time. Instead the prophecies concerning the suffering servant were the ones that would now be fulfilled. It is interesting that even though John had called Jesus the “lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world,” he did not fully understand how that would take place. I am sure he did not imagine that this Jesus, whom he had recognized as the anointed Messiah, would die on a Roman cross.
I think we can relate to what John was going through. How many times, when you are going through a trial, have you wondered if God is really there for you? Even though you may have experienced some victories in your life and praised Him for it, when an expected result does not come, you feel uncertain about Him. You don’t “feel” His presence, so it makes you doubt that He is there.
I believe Jesus would remind you the same way did John. Read what the scriptures say about me, then look and see how I have fulfilled them. Jesus could not be physically near John, but he is “in” us through the power of the Holy Spirit. John 15:4 says, “Abide in Me, and I in you. (NASU) The word abide means, “live.” He lives in us!
If you are a Christian you can be sure that Jesus lives in you. You never need to be uncertain. Jesus finished His message to John with an exhortation. It is message for us as well.
Matt 11:6 Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me." NIV
You may go through tough times as a believer in Christ; you may even be persecuted for His cause, like John. Do not fall away! Remember who your Savior is. He is the one who had the power to give sight to the blind, to heal the sick and the lame, to give hearing to the deaf and most importantly, the power to raise the dead! Do not be uncertain, keep you faith and trust in Him.
If you have not yet put your faith and trust in the One who has the power over death, I pray that you will respond to His call and do that today.
God bless you