There Can Be No Doubt
18The disciples of John reported all these things to him. And John, 19calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 20And when the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?’ ” 21In that hour he healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight. 22And he answered them, “Go and 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, the poor have good news preached to them. 23And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” 24When John’s messengers had gone, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 25What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who are dressed in splendid clothing and live in luxury are in kings’ courts. 26What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 27This is he of whom it is written, “‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.’ 28I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” 29(When all the people heard this, and the tax collectors too, they declared God just, having been baptized with the baptism of John, 30but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.) 31“To what then shall I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? 32They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another, “‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.’ 33For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ 35Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.”
This interaction between Jesus and the disciples of John the Baptist has always been one fraught with questions and no clear answers. John has been imprisoned by Herod. John spoke openly about the inappropriate marriage of Herod to his sister-in-law and Herod arrested him. This arrest would end in the death of John by beheading at the request of Herod’s niece (and her mother) who did a provocative dance for him. It’s a sordid story befitting a modern-day soap opera.
But before his death John sent his disciples to Jesus with this question, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” Such an unexpected question because John was the one who recognized Jesus as the Lamb of God when He came to be baptized by John. But sitting in prison, knowing your execution will soon follow, it would be easy to question. I’ve never had a clear answer as to whether John was simply making sure his disciples transfer their loyalty to Jesus after his death or if John is actually facing some personal doubt. Maybe it was a bit of both. Jesus is very clear not only with His words but also His actions; a full day of miracles and teaching. He is indeed the Messiah, there can be no doubt.
But we do doubt – all the time. When faced with the immediate problems of everyday life or even the really big issues that can keep us up at night, the reality of God’s love and power in our lives can become a little fuzzy. It’s easy to focus on what’s right in front of us rather than the big picture. God can become lost in all the stuff of life and doubts have room to take shape. Suddenly, putting yourself into John’s sandals, it’s not difficult to see how he might doubt a little bit when faced with certain death. The immediate may have had the ability to steal his focus off of the Messiah he had actually baptized.
But Jesus’ response is, of course, brilliant and final. He is the worker of miracles and powerful over every aspect of life. Yes He is the Messiah, the Promised One, and our faith in Him is never misplaced even if we’re facing insurmountable circumstances or struggles.