John The Baptist
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 Now when John, while imprisoned, heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to Him, “Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?” - Matthew 11:2-3


 We discussed Peter already who wept bitterly (Luke 22:62), The Rich Young Ruler who left Jesus grieving (Matt. 19:22). Now let's take a look at John the Baptist.


 For John the Baptist things were a bit different.


 We aren't the first to wag our heads at God. Remember John the Baptist? The very name John in hebrew means “God is gracious” and it was divinely given to him (Luke 1:13). John was “great in the sight of the Lord...and...filled with the Holy Spirit” (Luke 1:15). John was a forerunner making straight the way of the Lord (John 1:23). John was a champion of Christ and yet John was overwhelmed by his circumstances; his circumstances didn't make since to him. Imprisoned and confused by his present observations John sent a crude message to Jesus.


 We touched on this a bit earlier but this is worth stopping and taking a closer look. In the first part of Matthew 11 we see John the baptist, challenged by his present calamity, questioning God. John, who had seen miracles performed by God on countless occasions has been brought to circumstances that apparently got Him thinking. At this point in Matthew John had been imprisoned (11:2) and was soon to be beheaded (14:10) so I'm not surprised at John re-evaluating his trust object.


 Now when John, while imprisoned, heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to Him, “Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?” - Matthew 11:2


 I'm actually encouraged by this. Not that John questioned God but that even a champion of Christ could have his doubts. Remember, doubt is not unbelief. Doubt is questioning what one believes while unbelief is choosing not to believe despite the evidence given. John obviously believes in Christ. That fruit is evident in His ministry and is actually shown here as He questions nobody else but Christ. But take note of the tone of his question he sent with his disciples, especially given John's intimate relationship with Christ since before he was even born (Luke 1:41).


 “Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?”. (Matt 11:3b).


 That's a bit callous. I suspect John's been stewing on this as all of us would in his situation. And if you're reading this book, You may have had some callous thoughts towards God as well and maybe like John a callous word or two. Let's look at Jesus' response.


 Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. - Matthew 11:4-5


 What if Jesus, knowing John's current situation, dropped everything to go rescue him? For that matter, why didn't He? It wasn't a disdain for John, that's for sure, look at how He addressed the crowds after John's disciples departed.


 As these men were going away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John, “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ palaces! But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and one who is more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written,


 ‘Behold, I send My messenger ahead of You,
Who will prepare Your way before You.’


 Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. - Matthew 11:7-11


 I love that Jesus addressed the crowd with such a high praise of John. “...among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist!” (John 11:11a). Notice this message was not given directly to John's disciples. It was as John's men “were going away” that Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John (Matt. 11:7). This message was for the crowd, for me and you, but not for John, not at that time.


 Why not send that message with John's disciples? Since He's not bailing John out than at least He could send some encouraging words, right? Why didn't Jesus send that message of encouragement to the one whom He ranked higher than any born of women? Because it wasn't what John needed.


 More than encouraging compliments or even being bailed out of jail, what John needed was far more important than either. The undiluted truth that God is sovereign. God is doing exactly as He should be doing; God is doing exactly what He purposed to do. In John's case God was doing the very thing that John was sent as a forerunner to prepare the way for. (Matt. 11:10). God most definitely took note of John's situation, as the Bible tells us, not one sparrow falls to the grown without the Father's notice. What John needed more than a temporary rescue was a spiritual reprogramming.


 It's now been over a decade since the doubt and fear storms came in my life. While I wouldn't want to go through a crisis like that again I also wouldn't trade having gone through it for anything else. I can honestly say I'm thankful for those times of crisis in my life (notice past tense). It's not that I'm asking for more of them in my life (Eesh), that's not the point. Given the relationship I have with God now that wouldn't have been otherwise, I find it a heartfelt prayer in my life that God's will be done, whatever His will entails.


 Regardless of what is going on in your life know that your situation hasn't escaped God's notice. As God was for John, God is also for you and He has an eternal perspective. Others have learned much needed lessons through tears. The Rich Young Ruler learned he doesn't have it within himself to earn his way into heaven (Mark 10:22). Peter was sifted by Satan resulting in His reliance on Christ to save (Luke 22:31). While imprisoned John was reminded that God is good, God is sovereign and God's perfect will (Rom. 12:2) is being carried out. (Matt. 11:4-5). This lesson wasn't limited to just these three, the Apostle Paul was quite familiar with reprogramming.


  For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; - 2 Corinthians 1:8-9


 Temporary peril producing eternal benefits.


 For physical training is of some value (useful for a little), but godliness (spiritual training) is useful and of value in everything and in every way, for it holds promise for the present life and also for the life which is to come. - 1 Timothy 4:8 (Amp).




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