Doubt can control us and cripple us. Steph shows how even John the Baptist struggled with doubt, yet Jesus provided encouragement.
Matthew 11:2-5 (ESV) says,
“When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?’ Jesus replied, ‘Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.’”
The first part of this passage is easy to overlook—or at least skim over, but it’s something we should consider carefully.
Here he was, John . . . The son born to Zechariah and Elizabeth in their old age. The man who lived in the wilderness and ate locust and wild honey. The man without formal education who chastened the religious leaders of his day. The man who baptized Jesus even though he was not worthy to even untie His sandals. The forerunner of the long-awaited Messiah.
Of course he was discouraged . . . perhaps even depressed. After all, he was in prison. He likely feared for his life. And as it turned out, he did die for proclaiming the truth.
Stories Of Real People Who Fear and Doubt
As I’ve mentioned, the Bible is filled with stories of real people, people like you and me. Though the calling on their lives was often vastly different than the calling on ours, they were subject to the same fears and doubts as the rest of us. And this passage confirms that.
It is quite likely that John was expecting the same kind of Saviour as his countrymen were expecting, a conquering hero, one who would free the Hebrew people from the tyranny of the oppressive Roman Empire.
It really is no wonder that John asked, “Should we expect someone else?”
The Proof Jesus Offered
But the proof Jesus offered wasn’t the answer John likely hoped for, but nonetheless, it was the answer the Lord offered in response to his doubts.
The blind saw. The lame walked. The lepers were cleansed. The dead were raised to life.
Most of us would expect the list to end there. After all, what’s more impressive than the dead rising? Though it may not seem all that impressive, Jesus knew the last item on His list was worth mentioning. Good news was proclaimed to the poor.
A few days ago I referred to the outcasts, those who were shunned by society, those who were looked down upon. The blind, the lame, the leper, the poor . . . they were all considered to be under God’s judgment.
And here was Jesus ministering to their needs and holding them up as an example. That was Jesus’ answer.
Doubt Is A Normal Part Of Life
As with any portion of God’s Word, there is much we can learn from these few brief verses.
Doubt is a normal part of life, even for someone who has been used mightily by God. After all, just a little further on in this same chapter, in verse 11, Jesus said of John, “Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist.” Amazing!
Jesus didn’t criticize John. He did, however, provide enough information to verify that John had been right about Him all along. It just may not have been the proof anyone was expecting.
God’s answers are often like that. Sometimes they don’t seem relevant to our situation. But they are. We need to prayerfully contemplate how they do answer our questions and address issues we weren’t even thinking about.
Did Jesus’ answers free John from his cell? Not physically, but perhaps they enabled him to once again see things from God’s perspective.
Are you having doubts? Is someone in your family struggling with their faith? It’s okay to admit it to yourself, to each other, and to God. I urge you not to pretend it isn’t the case, not to minimize the situation, and not to make the one who has questions feel embarrassed or ashamed. After all, they are in very good company.
Prayerfully look into God’s Word for the answers to your questions.
And while it’s always important to fellowship with other believers, it’s especially important when you or someone you love is going through a dark time.
You may even want to set up an appointment with a pastor or Christian counsellor. Doubt is normal, but depression can take hold and it’s best to seek help before it gains the upper hand.
The doubts may seem overwhelming, as may the darkness. But God had the answers thousands of years ago—and He still does. Let’s seek them together.
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Images courtesy of:
The Preaching of John The Baptist – Breughel
Doubt – Cristiano Galbiati