“Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Matthew 11:3)
Have you ever found yourself in a season of doubt?
The kind of season where everything around you feels dark. The light you could once see so brightly, now seems to have faded.
You wonder if God is really there. Does He see you? Doesn’t He know what you’re going through?
The path you were on seemed so clear and firm. But now the path has disappeared and it feels like you’re sinking.
Sinking into disappointment.
Sinking into discouragement.
Sinking into despair.
And then your weary mind is flooded with questions…
Are you sure this is where you called me, Jesus?
Did I not hear you right?
This isn’t where I thought I’d be right now.
Have you abandoned me?
Do you even hear me?
John the Baptist was asking some similar questions when he found himself in prison.
You mean the one who was called to prepare the way for Jesus?
Yes. That’s where he was.
He sent two of his disciples to find Jesus and ask him point blank:
Are you the one who was to come?
This is where he is doubting whether or not Jesus is truly the Messiah.
Should we expect someone else?
As if the first question wasn’t clear enough, this one surely grabbed his attention!
John’s entire ministry pointed others to the coming Messiah. His assignment was to prepare the way for Jesus. If he got this wrong, then everything he did would be in vain. He would have been guilty of leading so many others astray.
He couldn’t live with that. He knew his days were limited. (When prophets rebuke kings, it usually didn’t go very well.)
So he had to know the answer to his final question.
Did he get it wrong? Was Jesus really who He said He was?
Dear friends, we often find ourselves in similar situations. We may not find ourselves in a physical prison awaiting execution. But we find ourselves in a different type of prison…
We might feel trapped in a marriage that started off on the right path, but now is falling apart.
We may have taken that dream job but now it feels like an absolute nightmare.
We poured so much into our kids but now they are wandering off, making poor choices.
Or maybe someone you trusted has betrayed you and you feel stuck in a prison of bitterness.
Whatever it is you’re doubting, you are most certainly not alone. We all have seasons of doubt. We all have those moments when we are afraid to even admit we doubt God’s presence in our lives.
After reading back through the passage where John the Baptist is doubting who Jesus is, he gets his answer.
Jesus sends those disciples back to John with exactly what he needs to hear. Don’t miss what Jesus says!
“Tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them.”
John would certainly recognize Isaiah’s prophecy in those powerful words. This promise would bring the peace John needed to sustain him through the painful circumstances he was experiencing.
Notice that Jesus did not speak words of condemnation towards John. He didn’t express disappointment that John was doubting him. He didn’t throw up his hands in frustration that John would dare question his authority as the Messiah!
Right after John’s disciples go on their way, here is what Jesus says about John:
“I tell you the truth, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist.” (Matt. 11:11)
Jesus makes this statement in the midst of John’s doubt!!
I don’t know about you, but I find this nugget of truth fascinating. It brings me such relief and peace. It removes the heavy burden of guilt I sometimes feel when I’m in a season of doubt myself.
As the forerunner to paving the way for Jesus, John did a lot of great things. He called a nation to repentance, and prepared the world for Christ’s arrival.
But the quality I think we can all embrace is how he persevered in the face of public misunderstanding and malicious persecution.
Have you ever been misunderstood by anyone? (A family member, friend or co-worker?)
Have you ever been wrongly accused for standing up for your beliefs?
Have you ever felt like someone has bound you up in an emotional or mental prison?
I don’t know where you are today, but I want to encourage you to claim the promises of Jesus that will bring you peace.
The very words of Jesus are what ultimately comforted John. Even in prison. Awaiting a death sentence.
Wherever you feel trapped, locked up, bound up or hopeless…only His promises can bring you peace.
Don’t feel shame in your doubts, but bring them to the feet of Jesus, the only one who can unlock your prison of doubt.
Blessings to you!