Luke 7:18-19 The disciples of John the Baptist told John about everything Jesus was doing. So John called for two of his disciples, and he sent them to the Lord to ask him, “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?”
These two verses make me alternately ache and take comfort. I see John the Baptist, formerly known as “wild man of the wilderness” fearlessly proclaiming the message of repentance, now desperately seeking an answer. John was sent to prepare the way for Jesus, to prepare the hearts of the people. He told them they couldn’t just say they were sorry and receive forgiveness. They must prove repentance by changes in behavior.
Luke 3:11 John replied, “If you have two shirts, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry.”
Luke 3:14 “What should we do?” asked some soldiers. John replied, “Don’t extort money or make false accusations. And be content with your pay.”
John called people out on their sin, sometimes by name as in the case of Herod Antipas the ruler of Galilee who had married his brother’s wife. That one got him thrown into the slammer. He wasn’t a coward or fly by night follower.
The Bible says John was strong in spirit. Jesus said in Matthew 11:11 “I tell you the truth, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist…” He was bold, brave and human. From the prison cell where Herod had thrown him, John began to think and wonder. He probably reflected on scripture regarding the Messiah, scripture he knew by heart, scripture Jesus had read in the Temple and declared He was the fulfillment of. (Luke 4:18)
Isaiah 61:1, “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.” Isaiah 42:7, “You will open the eyes of the blind. You will free the captives from prison, releasing those who sit in dark dungeons.”
So John sits, waits and thinks in a dark, dirty, dank hole of discouragement called prison day after day. Finally he sends word to Jesus through some of his disciples, “Are you the One?”
Oh my! I can feel the angst in his question. Caught in the middle of proclaimer and prisoner, John struggles. Everything his life has centered on called into question because God wasn’t acting like John thought God would act. The Deliver isn’t delivering. He isn’t even making prison calls of reassurance to bring John up to speed on the latest greatest strategy. He isn’t there! John is alone to wonder.
Have you ever been there? Where everything inside and outside of you seems to say, “Jesus is not the Messiah Deliver. Don’t trust. Don’t believe. You are a fool.” Or perhaps the more subtle subversive thought, “He doesn’t care” continues to beat through the defenses of your faith.
I have always found it interesting how Jesus in His holy and wholly mysterious way responds. He doesn’t leave immediately to go see John and reassure him everything is going to be okay and yes, He is the Messiah. He doesn’t even directly answer John’s question. He points to the evidence of His authority in the miracles He has performed and says, “Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” In other words, I know this doesn’t make sense. I know I’m not what anyone pictured a Messiah would be. But, I AM. Look at the evidence. Hang on, John. Your deliverance is at hand. Not the way you think it will be or should be, perhaps. But, full and complete deliverance.
He says the same to you. Hang on. Keep the faith. I AM. And He doesn’t say it casually or callously. He knows your pain, anxiety and loneliness. He experienced it too.
Perspective of an ordinary wife, mom, Christ follower, from way beyond the halfway point of life. Got to finish the race...aim for the prize!
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