“Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Go and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me’” (Matthew 11:4–6).
Jesus’ deity and His message of salvation by grace through faith have been great stumbling blocks for many unbelieving sinners, but Christ did not want such doubt and unbelief to affect John. It is likely that the Lord’s response was more than adequate to renew John’s faith and confidence, even though his circumstances, humanly speaking, went from bad to worse and he was beheaded.
After burying John’s body, his disciples reported the news to Jesus (Matt. 14:12), probably because the most important person in John’s life was now their Savior as well. At death, John likely still wondered when Jesus would judge the wicked and establish His righteous kingdom. The forerunner probably also regretted not being able to see the great events he’d faithfully preached about. But his doubts about Jesus’ identity were at an end, and he was content to leave in God’s sovereign hands the things he never fully understood. This last trait is the secret for any saint who would be blessed and not cause offense.
The Baptist would have ultimately affirmed the apostle John’s later declaration, “Beloved, now we are children of God . . . we know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:2–3). Knowing this, we can always approach Jesus, even while in temporary doubt.
Have you ever thought about what your final words will be if the Lord enables you to utter some parting thoughts at your passing? How do you think you’d want to sum up your experience on earth with the Lord and your perspective on life, looking back?
From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008.