You will remember in the previous post we may have been too hard on John. However, let’s reflect for just a minute on the circumstances of the situation. John was used to living in the outdoors and he had experienced total freedom. Now here he is confined to a cell and locked up with nothing to do except think.
John had been sent by God to prepare the way for Jesus and to preach the message of repentance. John’s message was much like that of the prophet Isaiah who urged the people to confess their sins and live for God. Both prophets taught that the message of repentance was good news to those who listened and sought the healing forgiveness of God’s love. But it was terrible news for those who refused to listen and thus cut off their only hope.
As far as John could see, the world was as wicked as it was before Jesus began His ministry. But Jesus was working–in His way and in His time. So Jesus reminded John of His words and that the evidence proved the words to be true.
Also I think it is fair to say that John’s doubt was not unbelief. But doubt is somewhere in between. Doubt is a common and natural flaw for us as human beings. We don’t, or can’t, see the whole picture or our thinking is often clouded by our physical conditions or circumstances. Yet when we believe by faith what God has said, we will forever be blessed with His presence and peace.
Faith in Jesus Christ and trust in His word and works debunks doubts and fears.
With so much evidence, Jesus’s identity was obvious and John would know the truth and recognize the Savior once again.
And like John, when we have questions or begin to doubt God and His Word we must take those questions, doubts, and fears to God. We need to let Him direct the answers and then, also like John, persist to the end.
The Day of Judgment will come, and while we wait for that dreadful day (for those who refuse to believe) we must get on with the job of proclaiming Jesus Christ as Savior.
So, when you have questions, concerns, doubt or fear, don’t turn away from Christ; turn to Him.
In Matthew 11:7, John’s disciples were leaving to go back to John with Jesus’s answer to his questions. Jesus turned to the crowd and pointed their attention to John, telling them of his fearlessness and faithfulness.
The one who had bore witness about Jesus was now being commended for his ministry. It proved that John’s message was true and that John had fulfilled his God-given purpose better than anyone.
In verse 11 Jesus commended John and his ministry with these words, “Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist!”
Yet Jesus went on to say that in God’s kingdom all members will have an even greater spiritual heritage. Why, you ask? Because we, unlike John, will have seen and known and experienced Christ and His finished work on the cross in a much different way than John had.
John never saw the cross. He never knew the meaning of Jesus’s death on the cross, His resurrection, and his ascension. He did not know about the Holy Spirit coming to permanently indwell believers. John lived close to these events but never knew these facts.
Yet we know not only of God’s message of repentance and His just judgment for those who refuse to believe, we also know of His great love and sacrifice on our behalf. We know of His great grace and His abundant mercy!
Like John we have a message to give forth, a truth to tell. And though we may not always like the responses we get or the results of that message, we have a duty and obligation to give it out!
But first and foremost we must receive the great Messiah, Jesus Christ!
Have you done this? Have you surrendered your life to Him? Are you becoming all He desires you to be?
Now in verse 12, Jesus said that from the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. Jesus Himself had cast out demons, and defeated illnesses, thus forcefully advancing the kingdom of God by preaching and teaching the good news of the gospel.
John had prepared the way and now we too must take hold of this gospel truth and forcefully lay hold of the kingdom. We must not be indecisive people! We must be bold, firm, determined, and forceful in advancing the cause of Christ in the world.
Jesus said in verse 15, “Whoever has ears, let them hear.”
How carefully do you listen to God’s Word? How eager are you to hear it and then to live it by obeying His commands?
Every day, you and I have the opportunity to read and know more than John the Baptist about Jesus Christ.
Will you take the study of God’s Word seriously? Will you recommit to faithfully studying His Word and living it out?
God is ready and willing to receive us to Himself. The question is, are we doing our part to fulfill His Great Commission?