Read Matthew 11
The first time we encountered John (in Matthew 3), he was unwavering in his devotion, preparing the way for the Messiah. He hesitantly baptized Jesus. John recognized the spiritual authority Jesus had over him. The Savior had come! But, here in Chapter 11, John finds himself imprisoned for proclaiming Jesus. Who knew the Truth could be such a threat?
John had some questions. Is Jesus really the Promised One, or should we expect another? John must have been expecting the Messiah’s ministry to be more like a monarchy than a controversy. Maybe John had envisioned a powerful response from the religious leaders of the day. After all, hadn’t they been awaiting the Messiah too?
But the leaders just fell jealous and suspicious of Jesus. Indeed, who could have realized the Messiah would be so misunderstood? On the cross, Jesus pleaded with God, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Lk. 23:34). Even His disciples, and perhaps John the Baptist, thought things would play out differently. John might have wondered why Almighty Jesus didn’t just bust him out of that prison!
Jesus knew just how to appeal to John; he sent a memo outlining what He’d been up to: giving sight to the blind, allowing the deaf to hear, healing lepers, raising people from the dead, preaching good news to the poor! It was a reminder from past scriptures that the Messiah would be most popular with the down-trodden. Messiah would be more accustomed to a simple meal or hunger than He would a king’s feast. Messiah would lay His glorious hands on an oozing wound. Messiah would give hope to the forgotten social reject.
Messiah would be the Savior of all!
After sending the memo to John and confirming that He was, in fact, the Promised One, Jesus said something interesting. “Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me” (Mt. 11:6). It was both a rebuke and an encouraging word for John.
It serves the same way for us. Following Jesus is not easy. People fall away from their beliefs in Christ. Why? We assume He’s not on our side if things don’t go well. Imprisoned John needed a word- “I love you as I always have. You did the job you needed to do, John, and My will prevails no matter your circumstances.”