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?”
Matthew 11:2-3 ESV
Herein lies one of the most tragic, but hopeful, accounts in all of Scripture. Sometime into Jesus’ ministry, Herod arrested John the Baptist because he was declaring some of Herod’s actions to be sinful. Ultimately, Herod would end up beheading the prophet, but in Matthew 11, John is still alive and in prison. Given the brutal conditions that ancient prisons maintained, John apparently begins to have some level of doubt about Jesus, so he sent his disciples to ask Jesus one critical question:
Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?
In the midst of his desperate situation, John longs for a confirmation that Jesus is the Messiah because if Jesus is the Savior, then suffering is nothing compared to following Christ. Jesus responds by reminding John of numerous signs of the coming Messiah (Isa. 26:18-19, 29:18-19, 53:4, 61:1), which John’s disciples have seen happening with Jesus: the blind see, the deaf hear, the lepers are clean, the dead live, and the poor hear good news. Finally, Jesus tells John, “blessed is the one who is not offended by me (v. 6).”
There is, I believe, great comfort to be found here. After John’s disciples leave, Jesus informs the crowds that John is the messenger from Micah 3:1 and that “there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist (v. 11).” But in spite of these glowing words from Jesus, John still had doubts; he wondered in his darkest hours whether it was all worth it.
Fortunately, Jesus is big enough to overcome our doubts. Just like He calmed John’s fears, Jesus is ready to “have mercy on those who doubt (Jude 22).”
Consider past and/or present doubts concerning Christ. How has the LORD helped (or is helping) you resolve them?