Bible Study Blog

Doubting John

by Lenny Cacchio

And John, calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to Jesus, saying, "Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?" -- Luke 7:19 (NKJ)

Did you know that even John the Baptist doubted Jesus Christ?  The same John the Baptist who said that he was unworthy to loosen the Messiah's sandal?  The same John the Baptist who said that Jesus should be baptizing him instead of the other way around?  The one about whom Jesus said that no greater had ever been born?  Yes, even John the Baptist had his doubts. 

John was in prison.  He knew the Messianic promises found in Isaiah, that the Messiah was "to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound".  Yet John the Baptist, the man who had lived on locusts and wild honey, was languishing in prison while Jesus and his disciples were eating and drinking with publicans and sinners.  Can we blame him for doubting?

The Messiah did not act as John expected him to act.  John and the people of his day expected a conquering Messiah who would give political freedom to the Jewish people.  They were expecting, as Isaiah proclaimed, "the day of vengeance of our God."  Where was this "vengeance" that would give John his rightful place in the Messianic Kingdom instead of this craggy dungeon cell?

John can be forgiven for his doubts, and indeed he was forgiven, for Jesus proclaimed shortly thereafter that among those born of women there is none greater than John the Baptist.  And we too can be forgiven for our doubts.  We, like John, are in our personal prisons waiting to be released.  When Jesus' schedule is different from ours, or he does his work differently than we would do it, we might doubt his power or willingness to use that power.  We're in good company when we doubt.

How did Jesus answer John's questions?  'Then Jesus answered and said to them, "Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them.' (NKJ)  Jesus did the things he had promised to do during his first coming. (Luke 4:18).  Pointedly, however, when Jesus read the words of Isaiah which he said were "this day fulfilled in your ears", he purposely failed to quote "the day of vengeance of our God" because that part of the prophecy was yet to be fulfilled in their ears.  

So remember, all you John the Baptists, Jesus is the Messiah.  But we must give him space to do things in his own time and in his own way.