When we are trapped doubts come.
When there is no visitation from heaven to our prison cell, the nights are long and the days become night.
“After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in the towns of Galilee.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[b] are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” (Matthew 11 v 1-6)
Don’t be disappointed in John the Baptist.
He is stuck in a prison cell, forgotten, his only future is death. One thing plagued him in the darkness and loneliness. Had he got it wrong? There was no mistaking at the time the revelation he had of Jesus at the Jordan river. This was who he had become the messenger for. But now, here, trapped. He doesn’t want to die in vain. Did he point out the right Messiah? After all there had been so many false ones.
John begins to doubt and those doubts play havoc in his mind.
So John sends his disciples for proof. He just needs to know Jesus is the One. Even if he never gets out of the prison, even if he dies, he needs to know it has all been worth it.
Jesus’ response is amazingly compassionate and kind. Truly!
- He gave John’s disciples first-hand experience of the miracles he was doing and his teaching. They saw and they heard. They were there. When they returned to John that prison cell came alive with testimony. Light shone in the darkness. There are times when we all need to hear of a miracle. We all need to hear a transformational story. That Jesus saves.
- He quoted Isaiah, especially chapters 29, 35 and 61: 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. But how amazing that he stops short and doesn’t say also: to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners. John knew Isaiah’s prophecies about what the Messiah would do. The startling omission is an obvious message to John. Will you still believe even if I leave you in prison? If I don’t do what you expect me to do, is that okay with you?
- He blessed John with the instruction to remain strong. Don’t stumble at this point. Hold on John, your blessing is coming. We too receive this message. Wherever we are, even if we are trapped, let the light of Jesus penetrate the cell you are in. He is the One. There is no other. Don’t let go of the truth. Blessing is coming. It is yours.