When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come or should we expect someone else?”
We all know the story of John. He was born to Elizabeth and Zechariah. His sole aim was to make the way for the Messiah.
John had his first encounter with Jesus while he was still in Elizabeth’s womb. When Mary went to visit Elizabeth (both were expectant with kids), John leaped with joy in his mom’s womb at Mary’s greeting. Whether John and Jesus interacted as kids we are not told.
The next encounter he had with Jesus was when Jesus went to river Jordan to be baptized by him. He recognized him immediately, not as son or Mary, but as the Lamb of God.
John already knew how to recognize the Messiah.
And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘the man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit. I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”
I believe this proves without reasonable doubt that John knew Jesus was the Messiah.
You may wonder, as I do…what happened between John 1 to the time John was put in prison to make him question if Jesus was truly the Messiah?
I love the response that Jesus gave. He did not get angry ‘cause John doubted. He let John’s disciples stick around as he healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, and drove out evil spirits. Then he told them, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and good news is proclaimed to the poor.” Luke 7:22
Now if you search the scriptures, you will find that what Jesus did was a fulfillment of the prophecy by Isaiah concerning Jesus’ ministry. Read Isaiah 61:1-3 and Isaiah 35:5-6.
You see, John’s disciples saw Jesus do all that stuff in fulfillment to the prophecy. But there is something he did not do, ‘free the captive.’ John knew he was about to die. Yet he knew that the Messiah was meant to free the captive. So why didn’t Jesus free him?
Did you know that Jesus was the first to write a code? Not the computer code really, just a secret, coded message to a friend. John was familiar with the book of Isaiah, and Jesus knew that. He sent him a message of hope:
Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear, your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.”
John expected Jesus to free him. Jesus sent him a word of comfort, ‘be strong, do not fear, your God will come.’ Jesus wanted John to see him just not as he had heard, but as Jesus was. Not saving him from that prison didn’t mean he had forsaken him. Neither did it mean that Jesus was any less of a Messiah. It just meant that God was doing something greater than what John expected.
Let’s bring this close to home. How many times have you doubted something that you knew for sure for sure? You may know that God has called you to do something, yet doubt has crept in. You wonder if for real that was God’s voice.
I have had my moments of doubt. Times when I forgot what God said concerning me. I could be sure that I am meant to do this, or walk in a certain journey. But when things got tough, I faltered on my faith, wondering if God had really spoke.
Sometimes fear blurs everything that God has accomplished through us. You have seen it with your own eyes, yet at that moment of weakness, you begin to doubt whether you actually saw or your eyes were just playing tricks on you. I love God for He understands these things. He doesn’t get angry when doubt comes. He continues to say, ‘be strong, do not fear, your God will come.’
God may not come the way you expect Him to. You may expect Him to pour water on fire and quench it; yet He may decide to take you through the fire. You may expect God to come to come with royal horses and carry you to your destiny; yet he may decide to guide you through that still small voice.
Message to carry home? Stop concentrating on the way they told you God will come, concentrate on God. You may be in despair right now, you have been waiting for God in road A (not knowing there are infinite roads for God), losing hope, doubt telling you God never meant to walk with you. But the word of God is true; you can bank on it. He says in His word that He won’t forsake you. Don’t let doubt tell you otherwise. I want you to rest on the assurance that even when doubt comes, your God will come.