At the time of this account John the Baptist is in prison. The wilderness man now confined to captivity with brief visits from his disciples to hear the news from the outside. I imagine he’s frustrated. It seems as though his circumstances have lead to a spirit of doubt. He must be wondering why things have turned out this way, wasn’t Jesus here to set the captives free? You can almost hear the mixture of doubt, frustration and hopelessness in his question to Jesus in verse 19. “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?”
When we find ourselves in seasons of doubt, the questions creep in along with frustration, maybe even anger, or fear, what do we do with all of the emotions? When life feels like it has rattled us a bit too much and our faith isn’t as strong as it maybe once was, our tendency may be to ignore the questions, push away the doubts, distract ourselves from this uncomfortable place in our relationship with Christ. Yet this account of John shows us the way forward. We see John reaching out right away to Jesus with his fears and doubts. He doesn’t beat around the bush; he knows deep down the way through is always to draw nearer to Christ.
I wonder if we are so concerned with getting “this thing” right with Christ that we think He can’t handle our doubts and so we decide to self manage. We look to all kinds of other things to find answers when the answer is clearly in Scripture as we see in this chapter in Luke. John knows he can trust Jesus with the deepest places of his heart; his question lays it all out on the table. I love how Jesus responds. Right away He begins healing, performing miracles, and loving people through His actions. He wants John and us to know that this Messiah thing is real. It may not have looked like what John expected—as our lives often don’t look like what we expect—but nonetheless Christ was and is trying to say to us that all He really wants is our hearts, whether full of faith or plagued with doubting questions. He can see past our doubts to the true nature of our hearts as He did with John when He says in verse 23, “God blesses those who do not turn away from me.” Very gently Jesus reminds John of what he already really knows about himself, that his faith is stronger than any circumstance John may find himself in. When we turn—as John did—to Jesus with our doubts, it is the biggest act of faith we can make and Christ is ready to meet us in that place to remind us of who He is and who we are in Him.
Lenten Reader 2018
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