Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
(Matthew 11:2-6 ESV)
Up until this point in his gospel Matthew has focused on specific events in Jesus’ life which corroborate that Jesus is the Messiah promised in the Old Testament. In the next couple of chapters Matthew records the reactions to Jesus starting with John the Baptist’s doubt.
John the Baptist had been thrown into prison earlier [Mark 6:17] but while there had heard about the deeds of Jesus such as His miraculous healings. John had been convinced that Jesus was the Messiah [Matthew 3:13-14] but now was beginning to doubt .
The Jews at this time believed that their Messiah would overthrow the Roman government and reestablish Israel as a free, independent nation. Jesus had not done that. Instead He was healing people which was nice but was not what was expected. John, therefore, had begun to wonder if Jesus was truly the Messiah.
Notice that when John was living freely in the desert he had absolutely no doubt who Jesus was. But now he was in prison. He had lived his entire life in wide-open spaces, breathing fresh air. But now he was confined to a small, dark, dirty cell. Certainly this was not a comfortable situation for him.
Doubt can arise because of our situation. But God is God no matter what we are going through. Our circumstances may change for the worse but God is still the same [Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8; James 1:7 et. al]. He is still in control. He still loves us. Our circumstances should not affect how we view Him.
We also need to realize that God’s truth almost always contradicts what the world thinks. The Jewish community, including John, had certain expectations of their Messiah. But just because they believed these things didn’t make them true. We should never allow worldly truth to influence how we see God. Rather, God’s truth should dictate how we view and understand the world.
All around us the world talks about evolution as if it were fact. All around us the world celebrates homosexuality. All around us the world tacitly approves of sinful behaviors such as lying and greed. It would be very easy to start to wonder if these things were true or if God’s word is true.
The one and only way we can know God’s truth and have complete confidence in Him no matter what our circumstance and no matter what the world tells us is to know our Bibles. The Bible is the primary way God reveals Himself to us. We need to study our Bibles every day. Sadly, many Christians know more about TV characters than they do about God.
That leads many to be offended when life doesn’t turn out the way they expect. When tragedy strikes they blame God instead of trusting Him. They wonder, as John did, whether what they once knew to be true is in-fact true. And as Adam and Eve found out, doubting God leads to sin.
But the one who trusts God in all situations and does not doubt will be blessed.
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