Why Did John The Baptist Doubt Jesus?
Are You The One To Come?
In Matthew 11:2-4 ESV, John said: “are you the One to come or should we expect someone else?” Why did John feel the need to ask if Christ was the One to come?
To address this question it is important to get the order of events correct. When John asked Jesus this question it was after John had first witnessed the miraculous sign concerning the Spirit descending upon Jesus, who was to baptize with the Holy Ghost (John 1:33-34), exactly as God had told him prior (“He that sent me,” John 1:6, 33).
So, here we have John who was the forerunner of Jesus, the one who declared Jesus to be “the Lamb of God,” and “the Son of God,” now openly expressing some doubt.
Note: Just to be fair, John had been languishing in prison well over two years after the miraculous sign he had witnessed (Spirit descending as a dove) and was expecting that by this time the Messiah would forcibly take control of His kingdom. In such circumstances, “a man’s misery often weighs heavily upon him” (Eccl 8:6 NIV), so that it would have been easy for John to doubt the reality he had seen several years before and assume that he had been mistaken about Jesus (after all, he was still languishing in jail for what must have seemed an eternity).
When John asks whether Christ is “the One” or if they should look for someone else, he is clearly falling into the classic trap of his generation to look for a King rather than a Savior. If He were the Messiah, then why was He still humbly walking the land and not assuming regal power? But if He were not, then how could He be doing these miracles? But our Lord came to establish a kingdom greater than any earthly kingdom and to accomplish a salvation greater than any earthly deliverance. After all, John did say that this Lamb “takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
The phrase in Matt 11:2″ when John heard in prison what Christ was doing” (and also Luke 7:18 compared with Luke 7:11-17) probably provoked John’s questioning. To put it in the terms used by the Pharisees, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you really are the Christ, tell us plainly.” To which Jesus replies “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in My Father’s Name speak for Me.” (John 10:24-26 ESV).
This is a lesson about patience and trust. God always hears our prayers, but He does not always answer on our timetable. We should trust God even if the answers to our prayers may at times seem to be the opposite of what we are asking or what we need.
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