Matthew 11:2-6 (ESV)
Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to Him, “Are you the One who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
John had been certain Jesus was the Messiah. Even from the womb, John responded to being near Jesus (Luke 1:41). John’s whole ministry was to prepare people for the coming Messiah (John 1:23). As Jesus came to John to be baptized, John proclaims Him as the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).
John had been walking around preaching, he had disciples, he was baptizing people, being revolutionary, fighting for what was right and true with the leaders and the people, doing God’s work, telling people to repent and preparing their hearts for Jesus. He knew his path and was walking it.
Imagine what he must have been feeling sitting in that prison. His ministry halted and he was not there for any wrong he himself did, but for confronting Herod of his sins, including the marrying of his brother’s wife. He was probably wrestling with the expectation of what he had thought the Messiah would be and do. Most were expecting a military leader who would free them from the physical oppression they as a people were experiencing. But as Jesus started His ministry, it looked quite different.
Doubts began to creep in. John sends some of his disciples to ask Jesus “Are you really the One? Did I miss it somehow? Should we be looking for someone else?”
Jesus didn’t chastise John for his question. Instead, he told John’s disciples to go and tell him what they saw and had heard, of all the things Jesus was doing for others. He was raising the dead, giving hope and encouragement to the poor. And He ends His message to John with “And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
Have you ever found yourself in that place where you were sure you were on the right track, you follow God and try to honor Him in your life, but things don’t turn out how you expect? You pray for God’s hand in your finances, but you lose your job. Your pray for restoration in your marriage, but it just seems to fall more apart. You pray for healing for someone you love, but death comes instead.
And you watch as God works in the lives of others. Promotions given, marriages restored, healings given.
Doubt can start to creep in.
When we find ourselves in these places, it’s time to do a heart check.
Ask yourself what expectations you have of the Messiah. Are you looking for one who will save you from hurt and hardships here on earth? The one who will give all the things you think you need to be more comfortable in this life? Or are you looking for the One who opens the eyes of the blind and brings prisoners out of the dungeon (Isaiah 42:6-7), the One who came to save you from the bondage and eternal consequence of your sin (1 Timothy 1:15)?
As you watch God working in the lives of others, are you finding yourself getting offended and have a heart that is crying out “Why not me?” Or are you praising God for the works He is doing in and for others and trusting that He will take all the heart aches and hurts you are going through and work them out for your good? (Romans 8:28)
We can take heart and know that God is faithful, keeping covenant and steadfast love with those who love Him and keep His commandments (Deuteronomy 7:9).