“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).
That John the Baptist sent some of his disciples to Jesus testifies to his genuine faith. John was not seeking more information about Christ but confirmation. In essence, he asked, “Even though I firmly believed You are the Messiah, could I have been wrong?” It was the same attitude as the father of the boy the Lord had cleansed of an evil spirit—“I do believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24).
After being in prison for months, unable to minister and interact with the outside world except through periodic visits by his disciples, John had many doubts and uncertainties about Jesus. Those misgivings settled on his mind even though he had announced, baptized, and declared Jesus to be the Messiah.
This prompted John’s disciples to ask Jesus directly, “Are You the Expected One?” This was a common title for the Messiah, along with Branch, Son of David, and King of kings. The name first appears in Psalms 40:7 and 118:26, and the gospel writers often use it (e.g., Matt. 3:11; Mark 1:7; Luke 3:16; John 1:27). There was no mistaking the fact that John wanted to know for sure if Jesus was indeed the promised Messiah.
Many Christians today wrestle with doubt from time to time, so it should reassure them that one with the spiritual stature of John the Baptist also doubted. And it ought to encourage us, as we’ll see in the following days, that our doubts come for the same reasons as John’s—and we, like he, can overcome them.
What (if anything) has caused you to doubt the reality of God’s existence or the veracity of His promises? How did He bring you through the maze and mist of uncertainty into a surer place of confidence? What did you learn about Him and about yourself in the process?
From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008. Used by permission of Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL 60610