It’s nice to know that the “heroes” of the Bible had struggles too. That they had fears. That they had doubts.
I’m sure that’s exactly what John the Baptist was going through in prison. He had been doing a great work for God, calling the people to repentance, and preparing the way for Jesus. Then suddenly, it was over.
John was arrested by Herod for criticizing him for marrying his brother’s wife, and as a result was thrown into prison.
Perhaps at first, John still felt confident and triumphant. “The Messiah is here! He will save us from people such as this so-called king named Herod.”
But time passed. And while Jesus did many things, political change was not one of them. Herod was still on the throne. Rome was still in charge. And John was still in prison.
Day after day dragged by, and perhaps John’s words became less and less certain. Finally, they may have been completely stilled by his doubts.
“Is Jesus really the one? Have I made a mistake? Maybe I heard God wrong.”
Finally the day came when his disciples came and they told him of all Jesus had been doing. Perhaps after a moment of silence, he told them, “Please pass him a message. Ask him, ‘Are you the one? Are you the one we’ve been hoping for? Or should we ask for another?'”
I wonder how John’s disciples felt at they came to Jesus. Had doubt crept into their hearts as well because of their master’s misery? But they asked.
How did Jesus respond? He didn’t get angry. He didn’t criticize John for his lack of faith. Instead, he looked at John’s disciples. Then he looked around at all the hurting people around him. And he started to heal. The blind, the lame, the deaf, the lepers.
And having done all that, he turned to John’s disciples and said,
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. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me. (Matthew 11:4-6)
Sometimes we, like John, struggle with doubts. We wonder if Jesus is really there. We look at the world around us. We look at our own circumstances. And we wonder, “Is my faith in Jesus just a farce? Or is there real substance behind it? Have I been wasting my life following Jesus? Or is it really worth it?”
I think the nice thing is that Jesus doesn’t blast us for our doubts. But he does remind us, “Look at what I’ve done. Look how I’ve helped you in the past. Look at the healing I’ve brought to your life. I’m still here. I’m still working.”
But beyond looking at these things, let us look to the cross. Let us look at what Jesus did there. Because in the cross, we have the ultimate proof of his love for us. And in the resurrection, we have the ultimate proof that he has the power to help us right here, right now.
May we never stumble because of Jesus. Rather let us stand on him. For he is a sure foundation that will never crumble beneath us.