“Now when John, while imprisoned, heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to Him, “Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.” Matthew 11:2-6 NASB
John the Baptist was in a dark place. Figuratively and literally. He sends a message to Jesus – Are you the One? Or is our faith misplaced? You almost do a double take, coffee spluttering everywhere, the first time you read John’s words? What?!! Is this not the same John who announced with confidence as he saw Jesus walking by? “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”. His announcement caused two of his followers to promptly unfollow him and start to follow Jesus. Such was the potency of the man’s testimony. And now, he wonders, doubts assailing the dark confines of his mind. “Are you the Expected One?”
Similar doubtful questions come to mind, and I am reminded of the disciples bobbing wildly about on their own sea of uncertainty. “Master, carest thou not that we perish?” Translation – Are you the One going to do something about the state we are in or are we O-Y-O* here? Notice Jesus’ response to John’s emissaries. He doesn’t berate John for his questions.
Elsewhere the Lord wasn’t so quiet about calling others out when they doubted. For instance, to the disciples when they cried out in fear during the sea storm- “Why are ye fearful? O ye of little faith?” Or to Martha of Bethany when she protested that there would be a stench on hearing Jesus’ command that the stone covering the entrance of her brother Lazarus’ grave be removed. He has been dead for four days, you could almost hear Martha emphasise the words four days. Jesus marvelled at her continuing unbelief. “Did I not say to you that if you believe me you will see the glory of God? “
Jesus doesn’t give John a sermon about the preposterous nature of his questions. He is not offended at this great man’s questions of faith. He simply sends word back to John through his disciples. Report to John what you see and hear. The blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life and the poor have the gospel preached to them. Tell John, give John news of what God is doing and what He has done. Let’s see if John doubts will stand in the face of the testimonies of God’s miraculous acts.
In like manner, that is the way we too are going to overcome the doubts which invariably assail us. Tell and remind ourselves how God made a way, how the finances came just at the right time, how He healed you or your loved ones, how He blessed you in-spite of opposition, how just out of the blue, a phone call restored your hope and gave you encouragement right at the point of giving up. How He preserved your life amid danger, how He blessed you with babies in spite of your medical history. And how you are still here even though people have written you off, time and time again.
Jesus is not afraid of our questions, doubtful or otherwise. He knows just how to get to the bottom of things. Report to John what you see and hear. Tell yourself what you have seen and heard Jesus do in your life and in the lives of those around you. Take the news and the testimonies of God working to the prison of your doubts. Announce to them that you have seen God at work before and you will yet seen Him again.
When Jesus reels off the transformative encounters, the before and after state of many people, He finishes off by saying “…….. the poor have the gospel preached to them”. Ever wondered why if the blind receive sight, the lame walk, the deaf hear etc, should Jesus not have said, and the poor became rich? Could it be perhaps, that if you are rich and do not know Jesus or believe the gospel, you really are indeed poor? Well, maybe that’s a blog post for another day : )
Thanks for reading!
*on your own