(This passage is also referenced in Matthew 8:5-13; 11:2-19)
How does it feel to take second place? To be side lined? Overlooked? How does it feel when life hurts and seems to make no sense of the promises of Scripture, prophetic words given to you, or your faithfulness in being obedient to the call of God. When it just seems all so…unfair! Has there ever been a time when you have asked the question: ‘Jesus, why don’t you do more?’ Have you ever needed reassurance that Jesus is the One – that He really is God?
Not unreasonably John the Baptist has questions, and that one in particular. This is the John who was the messenger of God; the same John who had pointed to Jesus and so confidently declared: ‘here is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’; the John who experienced the Holy Spirit falling upon Jesus – he was there and he saw; the John who heard the Father’s voice declaring over Jesus: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’; the John who confidently testified about Jesus ‘this is the Son of God’.
It is this John who needs reassurance. Why? Well, for one, languishing in prison was not an expected outcome of putting his faith in Jesus. His circumstances denied the type of Messiah he was expecting - a Messiah perhaps who would click his fingers and make all things well. So, John sends some of his friends to ask Jesus about what is going on. Jesus says to them: tell John – don’t be offended by what you have not seen me do. The same is true for us. Don’t take offence at God when life sucks! Don’t let unanswered prayer be a stumbling block to your faith. Don’t get stuck in a prison of your own making.
The promise given to John is that he will be blessed if he stands firm and holds on. It’s OK to question. We can turn our questioning into prayer and at particular times of trial it is great to ask some trusted friends to pray for us. Friends who will intercede for us – plead our case before Jesus, listen to Him and pass on what they see or hear. It’s his friends who pass back to John what they hear. They bring both the promise of verse 23 and the testimony of what Jesus had done for others. They point to where Jesus can be found in the Scriptures.
What the friends and therefore John do not hear is Jesus affirmation of how great a person John is. Jesus affirms John’s faithfulness and his fortitude; his integrity and his importance; his goodness and his greatness. What does Jesus see in you? Why don’t you ask him?
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Choose to live unoffended by the apparent unfairness of God.