When the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?’” (Luke 7:20 NRSV)
John the Baptist had a remarkable ministry; many people turned back to God as a result of his preaching. However, in Luke 7 we don’t meet John at the high point of his ministry, but rather at a very difficult time in his life.
This man, who once had a great ministry, is now in prison, having been put there by King Herod.
I imagine things weren’t working out for John quite as he expected. Perhaps he was thinking, if Jesus is the Messiah then he would do something about his imprisonment; and yet here he was still in prison.
I think we all can relate to how John might have been feeling. There are times in life when things don’t work out as we expected and we wonder why God is allowing something to happen to us. There may even be times when we feel imprisoned by our circumstances.
Maybe you’re going through such a time right now and you can’t help but feel things aren’t as they should be in your life. We all go through times like this, and John did what is normal in such circumstances: he doubted what he once believed and he questioned.
He sent some of his followers to ask Jesus if he had been right about whom he was after all.
He had once been so certain that Jesus was the One promised by God; but his circumstances made him wonder. So he asks questions. Is Jesus really the One, or should I seek another?
Jesus doesn’t criticise John for doing so, in fact he praises him, gives an answer and some encouragement.
His answer to John is not to lose heart because he is who John thought he was, and the proof is in the wonderful work he is doing in people’s lives.
Yet Jesus doesn’t explain why John is experiencing his imprisonment. Isn’t that like our own experience? Sometimes we don’t get an explanation for our circumstances, but we do get a promise that Jesus is the Messiah; God come near to us, who is still able to do amazing things in people’s lives.
John serves as an example to all who are waiting, perhaps in a time of questioning and wondering within a prison of our circumstances. His example shows it’s OK to ask questions and wonder in the midst of confusing and difficult circumstances.
John never got an explanation in this life for his imprisonment and we may never get the answer for things we go through.
What we can be assured of is the Lord is near and gives us strength, hope and eternal salvation.
Father, thank you that we can ask questions, and that you provide the encouragement we need.
Have a good week asking questions.