Sometimes the hand we’ve been dealt in life is not what we expected; we were hoping for the best, but things only go from bad to worse. This is when like John the Baptist, we find ourselves struggling with doubt.
The disciples of John reported all these things to him. And John, calling 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?” Luke 7:18-19
John the Baptist had previously said the time had come for him to decrease and for Jesus to increase. Jesus’ popularity was on the rise; not only did He teach with authority unlike the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus also was a miracle worker. People were giving glory to God and spreading the word about Him saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!” (Lk. 7:16).
This report reached John the Baptist; however, I don’t think John ever thought he hear such a report in prison. It’s one thing to see the crowds leave you to seek out Jesus; it’s another to be arrested and put in a dungeon. Alone and I think more than a little afraid he began to question his ministry as the one preparing the way.
But John was not just discouraged; his mind was filled with conflicting doubts. In that moment he questioned if what he had said about Jesus was really true. Was Jesus the Lamb of God? Was He the promised Messiah, the One sent by God? John sent his two friends to ask Jesus about his questions.
They would return to John reporting what Jesus told them, “The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor” (v. 22). With these words Jesus encouraged John to not stumble in his faith but to endure to the end.
Jesus did not stop with words of assurance sent back to John the Baptist, but went on to talk to the crowd about the baptizer. He reminded them they had gone out to John not because he was finely dressed, but because John was a prophet. Jesus then said,“I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John” (v. 28).
When overcome with conflicting doubts John said his worst about Jesus questioning if He truly was the promised Messiah. But Jesus was merciful and didn’t rebuke or put John down for his anxiety. Jesus responded saying His best about John.
Sometimes I find myself acting just like John allowing my feelings to overwhelm me with fear and doubt. However, feelings alone are not reliable, and I can do nothing to earn Jesus’ approval. Instead, I need only be a faithful servant and not allow circumstances or people to determine my value in the eyes of Jesus.
Yes to Yield
LORD Jesus, I confess like John my expectations sometimes get in my way; I too let doubt fill my mind. When things get difficult and the unexpected happens I sometimes question myself and in turn question why You would call me. I thank You for not being quick to disown those who doubt; as You were with John, so too You are merciful to me. You LORD humbled Yourself as a servant becoming. You did not think of Yourself, or demand Your rights; instead You have shown us an example by laying Your life down for us. Holy Spirit, help me be steadfast in my commitment as a servant. Empower me to not give up, so in time I too will hear You speak Your best about me saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”