Today’s devotion from Matthew 11. “Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one greater than John the Baptist has appeared.” (Matthew 11:11, CSB) This is what Jesus has to say about John the Baptist, but, why shouldn’t He? John was an incredibly devout and obedient follower of God. So profound was his obedience and message that people flocked to him even as he lived essentially exiled in the wilderness. The oddness of his existence drew scorn from some and devotion from others.
Even more important, John lived this way because of his obedience to God. He was called to the wilderness to be the voice crying out from there in fulfillment of the prophecies. He was the forerunner of the Christ, the Messiah. He came to prepare the way for the One who was the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
He had stood tall against religious jealousy and persecution, but now found himself in prison because of his selfless adherence to God’s ways. It is while he is in this prison that he begins to wonder. Had it mattered? Even though he had heard the voice at Jesus’ baptism and seen the Spirit as a dove, even though he had heard the stories, was Jesus really the One?
We all doubt at times, even the one who leapt in his mother’s womb just being in the presence of the unborn Christ. Even the one who stood face to face with Jesus, who spoke with Jesus, who baptized Jesus now finds himself filled with questions. Questions that need answered before he meets his inevitable end. So, John sent disciples to ask Jesus this question:
“Are you the one?”
I’m always encouraged by Jesus’ response. There is no anger, disappointment, or ridicule. Jesus simply answers the question by pointing to His work and His word. Look around. See the lives touched. Miraculous healings abound. The poor and ostracized are given the hope of the gospel. Look at the evidence of Jesus’ life and work, and realize that you already know the answer. Then Jesus preaches a message telling about the greatness of John’s faith. Yes. John had doubts and questions, but Jesus didn’t linger on those.
Don’t be discouraged if you have doubts and questions. Even the best among us will experience those seasons. Instead, be encouraged by Jesus’ response to John.