John’s disciples told him about all these things. Calling two of them, he sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”
When the men came to Jesus, they said, “John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?’”
At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. So, he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”
After John’s messengers left, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear expensive clothes and indulge in luxury are in palaces. But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written:
“‘I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way before you.’
I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”
(All the people, even the tax collectors, when they heard Jesus’ words, acknowledged that God’s way was right, because they had been baptized by John. But the Pharisees and the experts in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John.) (New International Version)
For a short time in my life, I had a side business doing some painting. I once painted an interior apartment in a large beautiful Victorian house. When I was done, it looked great. However, there was a bit of a problem. The owner came to check on my progress only to find that I had painted with the wrong color! I was certain I had it right, but, alas, the job ended up taking twice as long as anticipated.
Sometimes, we can be so sure about our plans, only to discover our expectations were off. John the Baptist was sitting in jail, not for any crime other than offending the king. As he sat there, John began to doubt. He started wondering about Jesus. Maybe he had been wrong about him. Perhaps he was not the Messiah, after all.
John had been doing ministry with the expectation that Jesus would beat up the Romans, usher in a renewed political Israel, and put down all threats to his Lordship. But that was not happening. John was now uncertain. So, he sent some of his disciples to Jesus to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”
John reasoned that if Jesus were really a sovereign king, he would not be languishing in a prison and facing imminent death. Jesus responded to John’s uncertainty by quoting the prophet Isaiah and letting him know that the kingdom takeover was going exactly as planned.
“Huh!?” John must have wondered. Maybe something was lost in translation. But no. The problem was that John had been using the wrong paint. John’s plans and expectations did not fully sync with Jesus.
It’s easy to doubt when unexpected and unwanted adversity strikes. When things don’t go according to our expected plans, then what?
This is why it is so vitally important to continually seek the Scriptures and seek the Lord Jesus so that we might not only paint the right building but also use the paint Jesus expects us to use.
The thing John got right was pursuing Jesus. When in doubt, he sought the Lord – and that is something we all can emulate.
As we paint the portrait of our lives, let’s be sure to use the colors Jesus gives us.
Lord Christ, you came into the world as one of us, and suffered as we do. As I go through the trials of life, help me to realize that you are with me at all times and in all things; that I have no secrets from you; and that your loving grace enfolds me for eternity. In the security of your embrace, I pray. Amen.