John the Baptist was a great man of God who knew he had a great calling and anointing on his life from the Lord. He was also very confident in his ministry and was rather blunt when he preached in the wilderness. When he was asked about whether or not he was Christ and who he really was in John 1:19-22, John answered very boldly in John 1:23 that he was the fulfillment of Isaiah 40:3, “the voice of one crying in the wilderness” to prepare the people for Christ’s coming.
But then an unforeseen crisis struck John the Baptist. Herod betrayed him by throwing him in prison without justification. In all the prophetic words that God gave him, this must have never been revealed to him and he was caught by surprise. The crisis led John to wonder about whether or not Jesus was really the Christ, so in prison full of doubts he sent two of his disciples to verify and validate everything (Matthew 11:1-6; Luke 7:19-23). His questioning Christ was not only about Jesus. John had an identity crisis about himself even though he was a seasoned veteran of the ministry who had witnessed and was told about all the miracles and prophecies surrounding his own life and Christ’s life.
In response to John’s doubts and questions, Jesus lovingly sent a message of reassurance back to John that he was indeed Christ and the proof was in his pure gospel message accompanied by genuine godly signs and wonders. Jesus even threw in a bonus about John that John was not even aware of. Jesus verified that John was the fulfillment of Malachi’s prediction of the coming of a prophet like Elijah who was to precede Christ’s arrival (Matthew 11:14). John had years earlier denied he was Elijah (John 1:21).
We can learn several things from this account of John’s doubts and how they were handled:
- The Lord doesn’t always reveal every purpose for our ministry to us.
- We may experience all kinds of miracles, prophecies, and situations to verify we’re hearing from God, but because of our human nature and God’s prerogative not to tell us everything, doubts will arise.
- Even if we have been in ministry for years or have been saved for years, crises can arise that can make us question everything we’ve seen and heard from God.
- When those doubts and big questions come up, it’s perfectly fine to approach the Lord with those doubts and questions.
- The Lord will answer us and verify what he wants us to know with certainty, but he is still not obligated to let us know exactly how everything will turn out regarding what we do for him.
- God may consider us greater than John the Baptist in his kingdom (Luke 7:28), but things still may not turn out the way we expect, yet we can be sure they will eventually turn out the way God knew they would or intends them to.