Worldly Influence On John

“Now when John, while imprisoned, heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to Him, ‘Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?’” (Matthew 11:2–3).

Even the righteous John the Baptist was not totally freed from worldly influences that could cause him doubts about Jesus. The Lord’s ministry did not completely square with what most Jews, including John, thought Messiah would do. The Christ could not set up His own kingdom without first freeing Israel from Roman bondage and injustice. But He had done nothing to oppose Rome. And Jesus’ many miracles had still not yet banished all suffering from Israel or the world.

A common misunderstanding was that other prominent men would precede Him—perhaps Elijah, Jeremiah, and some other prophets. Thus when Jesus later asked the apostles who people thought He was, they replied, “Some say John the Baptist [who by then was dead]; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets” (Matt. 16:14).

The distorted and world-based ideas about Messiah—with Jesus not fitting their preconceived notions—almost inevitably rubbed off on John. Then some Jewish leaders challenged Jesus by asking, “How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.” To this, Jesus responded, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me” (John 10:24–25).

The unbelieving world could affect even John’s confidence in Jesus because it does not grasp God’s plan, since such things “are foolishness to [them]; and [they] cannot understand them” (1 Cor. 2:14; cf. John 10:26). Worldly, unbelieving thinking will always try to sow doubts regarding the truth of Christ.

Ask Yourself

Can you identify a sliver of worldly thinking that has slipped into your way of looking at things? Why do we tend to embrace these kinds of perspectives at times? What do you do when you detect an unbiblical line of thought taking hold in your mind and attitude?

From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008.