- Matthew 8:5-13
- Luke 7:1-17
- John 4:46-54
- Matthew 11:2-19
- Luke 7:18-35
- Luke 7:36-50
“Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?'” –Matthew 11:2-3, ESV
In the past, I have read these words of John and interpreted them as John questioning the calling he received, questioning the signs he witnessed. But today, I see it a bit differently. What if John wasn’t questioning Jesus exactly, but wondering if his own purpose had been fulfilled. Contextually, John lived out the prophecies of his own life. He took the Nazarite vow and separated himself from the traditional way of life occurring in his day. He was a sight to behold, not only because of his physical appearance, but because of his whole-hearted devotion to God’s will for his life.
For a man who so deeply devoted his life to one calling to suddenly become doubtful seems…well, doubtful to me. John wasn’t recorded as being faint of heart or buckling under pressure. In fact, he was eventually beheaded for calling out a ruler over an inappropriate marriage. I wonder if instead of doubting, John was actually asking if his mission in life had been completed.
Remember: John was imprisoned and THEN Jesus began to preach. All John experienced of Jesus was the baptism and the Holy Spirit’s physical manifestation as a dove alighting on Jesus. John did not witness Jesus’ teaching, preaching, or healing. John did not witness Jesus hanging out with sinners, for he had been in jail. Perhaps instead of assigning doubt to John because it makes him more palatable to us, we need to see him as one wholly devoted to the call on his life.
In asking if Jesus was the Christ, Jesus’ response to John’s men was to first spend time healing. The Luke 7 passage shares that Jesus, in that very time, healed many. He then told John’s men to tell John what they had seen and what they had heard. For this would be the testimony of Jesus’ ministry; and in sharing that, John would know his purpose on earth had been fulfilled.