John the Baptist: A Doubter?
May 29, 2020
May 29, 2020
There are a lot of descriptors we could use about John the Baptist:
- John the Baptizer
- John the Identifier
- John the Testifier
- John the Messenger
- John the Discipler
- John the Decreaser
- John the Elijah
- John the Greatest among Men!
- John the Last of the Old Testament Prophets
- John the Witness
And one more descriptor, one that you may not have thought much about: John the DOUBTER.
What? John the Baptist had doubts? YES! Shocker! John the Baptist who was prophesied? The Elijah? The one who prepared the way of the Lord?
After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in the towns of Galilee. 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?” Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 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. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” Matthew 11:1-6
John had been in prison for probably two years at this point. Perhaps John is thinking, “I could be so much more effective out there telling people that the Messiah has come! That’s what I used to do. Before He came, I told people He was coming. I saw Him, I knew who He was and I pointed to Him and said, ‘Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.’ I could be so much more useful outside of this prison preaching to the masses.”
So now doubt has crept into his mind. Years in a dark, damp prison cell can test the strongest faith. John dispatches his disciples to get an answer from Jesus and they ask him, “Are you the One or should we wait for another?”
Jesus gives a great report of the miracles happening and the good news being proclaimed. But John is still in prison, unsure of whether he will live or die. He felt completely ineffective. Jesus says, “Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” God’s ways are not our ways. We may not understand. Zechariah and Elizabeth did not understand why they had to wait so long, thinking they would never have a child. They did not know God’s plan. When Joseph was languishing in prison, what was he thinking? God had miraculously provided for him to come into contact with some powerful people who had the king’s ear who had the opportunity to tell what happened. But they did not.
John the Baptist is an encouragement for us. Some people may have not experienced doubts, but I know I have. I take consolation in knowing that John the Baptist did too.
Jesus answered John the Baptist and his doubts. He didn’t leave John hanging. He sent back a pretty good answer. Jesus directed John the Baptist back to the Scriptures and did not rebuke him. Sometimes doubt needs to be rebuked. Zechariah was rebuked for his lack of faith. But Jesus doesn’t rebuke John the Baptist. He sends him encouragement.
Kevin is a Pastor at Blackman Baptist Church.